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Memoirs of 
HALIDE EDIB 




Alexandre Pnnkoff 



COLOKFUL CONSTANTINOPLE 



/ \\ v » > ' ■ » 



Memoirs of 

Halide Edib 

ff *7A a frontispiece in color by 
ALEXANDRE PANKOFF 

and many illustrations from photographs 







THE CENTURY CO. 

New York London 



PRINTED IN TJ. 8. A. 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW TURKEY, 

1885-1908 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I This Is the Story of a Little Girl ... 3 

II When the Story Becomes Mine 

III Our Various Homes in Scutari . 

IV The Wisteria-covered House again 

V College for the Second Time . 

VI Married Life and the World . 



30 
113 
155 
190 
207 



PART II 



NEW TURKEY IN THE MAKING 

VII The Period of Political Reform : The Tan- 

zimat, 1839-76 235 

VIII The Young Turks 246 

IX The Constitutional Revolution of 1908 . . 252 

X Toward Reaction : The Armenian Question 273 

XI Refugee for the First Time 285 

XII Some Public and Personal Events, 1909-12 . 295 

XIII Phases and Causes of Nationalism and Pan- 

Turanism in Turkey 312 

XIV The Balkan War 329 

XV My Educational Activities, 1913-14 . . . 345 

XVI The World War, 1914-16 377 

XVII How I Went to Syria 389 

XVIII Educational Work in Syria 431 

Epilogue 472 

V 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

colorful Constantinople Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAGE 

FAMILIAR OLD SCENES 17 

THE CEMETERY WHERE I PLAYED AS A CHILD .... 32 

MOSQUE OF SULEYMANIE 65 

THE MAIN ROAD IN ISTAMBOUL 80 

THE YARD OK THE EYOUB MOSQUE WHERE I FED THE PIGEONS 

AT EVERY YEARLY VISIT 97 

ENTRANCE TO EYOUB MOSQUE 112 

A SELAMLIK IN ABDUL HAMID's TIME 129 

SULTAN TEPE 144 

ISTAMBOUL 161 

THE HILL OPPOSITE OUR HOUSE IN SULTAN TEPE . . . 176 

A TOUCH OF THE PAST 200 

JENI-JEMI MOSQUE, AND THE DRESS OF THE TURKISH 

WOMAN OF NINETEEN HUNDRED 225 

LANDING-PLACE IN SCUTARI 240 

A VERY OLD STREET IN SCUTARI 257 

IN ISTAMBOUL 272 

THE MOSQUE OF FATIH 305 

TURKISH WOMEN IN NINETEEN EIGHTEEN 320 

ON THE WATERSIDE 360 

WHEN THE MOSQUES WERE FULL THE FAITHFUL PRAYED 

OUTSIDE 385 

CARPENTERING CLASS IN AINTOURA 400 

MONTESSORI CLASS IN AINTOURA 417 

A GROUP OF GIRLS IN AINTOURA 432 

THE ARMENIAN CHILDREN WERE GOOD MUSICIANS . . . 449 

SHOEMAKING CLASS IN AINTOURA * <± 



VU 



PART ONE 

BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW TURKEY, 1885-1908 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

CHAPTER I 

THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

SEVERAL instances of sudden consciousness of 
herself flash into her memory as she muses on 
her first self-acquaintance. There is the back- 
ground: the big house in Beshiktash, on a hill over- 
looking the blue Marmora at a distance, and near at 
hand the hills of Yildiz with the majestic white buildings 
surrounded by the rich dark green of pines and willows 
which are pointed out to her as the residence of his 
Majesty Abdul Hamid. 

She is not, however, interested in what the distance 
held, for the old wisteria-covered house, peeping through 
the purple flowers, with its many windows flashing in 
the evening blaze, is dominating her. The garden is on 
terraces, and there are tall acacias, a low fruit orchard 
with its spring freshness and glory, and a long primitive 
vine-trellis casting an enchanting green light and shade 
on the narrow pathway beneath it. This is the place 
where she moves and plays. There is a little fountain 
too, with a pair of lions spouting water from their 
mouths in the evening hours — making the only music 
in the twilight there. In the early morning, pigeons, 

3 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

ever so many pigeons, walk round her, and she quietly 
watches granny feeding them with crumbs. The won- 
derful smell, the wonderful color-scheme, and the won- 
derful feeling of stepping into the world for the first 
time in that garden. 

There is another flash, which faintly lights up another 
house, not granny's any longer, but her father's own 
house near-by. . . . An intense uneasiness and an ob- 
scure feeling, perhaps of undefined fear. The woman 
whom she calls "mother" is lying in semi-darkness be- 
side her, in a large bed, clad in her white gown. There 
are those two long, silky plaits, which seem to coil with 
the life of some mysterious coiling animals, and that 
small, pale face with its unusually long, curly black 
lashes resting on the sickly pallor of the drawn cheeks. 
This mother is a thing of mystery and uneasiness to the 
little girl. She is afraid of her, she is drawn to her, 
and yet that thing called affection has not taken shape 
in her heart ; there is only a painful sense of dependence 
on this mother who is quietly fading out from the back- 
ground of her life. The only act of that mother which 
the little girl remembers is when she finds herself sitting 
on the rather specially comfortable lap and the pale face 
with its silky lashes is lighted by the tender luster of the 
dark eyes while the woman dexterously plays with the 
little girl's tiny hands and takes each finger and cuts 
the nails — rather low — for it hurts. But no howling is 
possible as long as that low voice, with, as it seems, some 
warm color caught from the eyes, murmurs, "There is a 

4 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

little bird perched here" (this is said to the palm) ; "this 
one caught it" (this is to the thumb) ; "this one killed it; 
this ate it; and this little one came home from school 
and cried, 'Where is the bird? Where is the bird?' " 
Oh, the soft tickle of that touch and the hidden caress in 
that voice! 

Another incident, but this time it is one of unrelieved 
misery. That soft mother dressed in white, with those 
wonderful eyes, has a dreadful habit of playing on a 
queer musical instrument. The little girl hated it pas- 
sionately. She had not yet learned to bear ugly sounds 
and sights. A little girl from a poor neighbor's had 
come in and begged to hear the musical box, and the 
mother, indulgently, sweetly, no doubt, had begun turn- 
ing the handle, producing the distorted music, where- 
upon the little one began to howl and kick and scream 
with all her might. She was really agonized by the 
horrible noise, and she had not yet realized that one is 
often alone in one's likes and dislikes, and one has just 
to learn to tolerate other people's false notes. But the 
little woman in white slapped her on her cheeks, locked 
the door so that she could not escape, and turned the 
handle of the hated thing on and on. How long it 
lasted before sheer exhaustion sent the little girl to sleep, 
she has no idea. 

The next thing that appears in her memory is a sedan- 
chair with yellow curtains, carried by two men. The 
fading woman, dressed as always in white, is sitting 

5 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

inside, and they are taking her to a house in Yildiz. 
The little girl walks by the side of the horrible thing, her 
hand held by her father's tall groom. As they are going 
along she pulls open the yellow curtains and peeps in 
and sees there such a wan face with two such strange 
dark lights under their silky fringes that to this day she 
can see it clearly, painfully still. To this day too the 
little girl hates yellow. It gives her a sickly pain in her 
stomach. 

The new house in Yildiz was large, but only three 
servants and that fading woman inhabited it — the father 
appearing only of an evening and riding away on his 
horse the first thing in the morning. 

The light is once more turned down, and now there is 
no mother. The little girl stupidly wanders about, un- 
derstands nothing, knows nothing, feels lonely and 
abandoned. Every evening the father sits by a small 
round table. One single candle flickers, and his tears 
fall on the candle-tray, while the servants walk 
about on tiptoe and pull the little girl away by the 
hand. 

Ali is the man-servant who takes care of her ; he is her 
lala, that indispensable personage in every old Turkish 
household, for which no English, no European, equiv- 
alent can exist, for it arose from roots wholly foreign 
to them, wholly Oriental. The lala was the natural out- 
come of the marked separation between the indoor and 
outdoor life of that day and world. Indoors was the 
delicate, intimate rule of women; out of doors was the 

6 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

realm of men. They could play there their proper role 
of protector, and one felt happy and secure in their 
presence. As child, and as child only, one could share 
to the full the freedom of the two worlds, and one's 
lala was one's natural companion into all the open- 
air places of experience. Then too he brings with him 
into memory that je ne sais quoi of the old-world service 
— devotion, attachment, pride, possession even — which 
the modern Turkish world has forgotten but which made 
so much of the warmth and color of the old household 
life. In the lala's strength one was secure; on his devo- 
tion one could rely — tyrannously — and from his inno- 
cent familiarity one could learn the truths and fables 
which only fall from the lips of primitive affection. 
But to return. The little girl's lala is Ali, a quiet big 
man with a great deal of affection if she could specify 
that strange feeling yet. He is kind and grave and 
buys her colored sweets in the street, a thing which is 
strictly forbidden by her father. The woman who cooks 
and serves the meals is called Rassim, a dark and ugly 
creature with a face entirely covered by marks of small- 
pox. Rassim is in love with Ali, and Ali's brother 
Mustafa is the other man-servant. After the mother 
disappears the little one is in the men's sitting-room 
most of the time, and this is the way they must have 
talked, although she only realized the meaning of their 
words much later : 

Rassim : "The old lady is lost to everything in her 
mourning. She cannot move or think, so now I can do 
what I like with the child." 

7 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Ali: "Stop that talk. I will make thy mother cry, 
if thou touchest a single hair of her head." 

Rassim: "But she's telling tales about us all the 
time. Thou knowest how she goes and mimics every- 
thing thou or I do so that every one knows what we are 
doing." 

Axj: "What does she know? Poor little mite! 
Thou liest, Rassim. 

Rassim: "Vallahi [by Allah], I don't"— she grinds 
her teeth at the little girl — "if she lets out anything more 
about us two I will let the crabs loose on her." 

Ali: "What are the crabs for?" 

Rassim: "They are good for consumption. We 
had them to grind and put on her back, but she died be- 
fore we could put them on." 

Ali: "How is Bey Effendi [the master] ?" 

Rassim: "Still crying by the light of that single 
candle. It is the portrait of the other man that they 
found on her breast when she died which has done the 
mischief." 

Ali: "Thou must have put it there, thou pig!" 

Rassim: "No, vallahi! If she had not had the por- 
trait how could I have put it anywhere? O Ali . . . 
his name was Ali too. All the Alis are tyrants." 

Then she sings the old song: 

"Ali, my Ali, my rose, come thou to the rosebush; 
if thou comest not, give me a peach" (i. e., a kiss), "O 
Ali. 

"My Ali is gone to market ; the evil eye will touch him ; 
he who wishes Ali dead, may he lie in the grave instead " 

8 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

Then she puts her arms round Ali and kisses him, 
which action is always followed by shaking the little 
girl and looking into her wondering eyes : 

"Halide Hanim, thou art not to tell, never, never." 

What is it that they do not want her to tell? When 
and how she has ever told anything she does not know, 
but she answers : 

"I will tell, Rassim Dadi; * I will tell." 

Then follows the usual fighting between Ali and Ras- 
sim because of the little girl, and Mustafa looks on, 
with that disagreeable grin on his face. 

The next morning she runs down to the kitchen in 
her night-dress, her feet all bare. She has a queer 
quivering feeling down her back, and her mind is full 
of crabs, whatever they may be. 

"I will tell, Rassim Dadi," she screams defiantly on 
the last step, and before she can run up-stairs again she 
is caught and set in the middle of the kitchen while a 
large basket full of something is poured out on the floor, 
and there the little creeping horrors are all round her 
feet. 

The helpless terror, the speechless agony of fear, the 
hair damp on her forehead, the staring eyes that hurt! 
She has no remembrance of the end of this terrible event, 
but she knows well the stories her granny used to tell 
later about Rassim's cruelty to herself. 

"I rescued the poor little creature," granny would 

i In Turkish such appellations as nurse, princess, etc., are put after the 
personal name, and for elderly servants politeness demands that some such 
title must be given. 

9 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

say; "I was coming to the house that morning, and from 
the garden I heard the child screaming. I rang, and 
Rassim never thought it was I, so she opened the door, 
and I found the child laid on the mat, her mouth filled 
with black pepper, which Rassim had been stuffing her 
with, and struggling to get away. I could have beaten 
Rassim, the wretch! But the little one continued de- 
fiant to the last. 'I will tell, Rassim Dadi,' she kept 
on screaming, while Rassim, wild with rage, kept on 
shouting, 'Say thou wilt not tell.' " 

But all that is strangely forgotten, and the only thing 
that can be seen through the haze is a somehow connected 
vignette of the little Halide sitting on the lap of a won- 
derful old man, with burning eyes and a flowing white 
beard, who caresses her hair with a gentleness so queer 
from those rough hands. "Poor little mite!" grand- 
father keeps saying. 

Her next and last impression of the house in Yildiz is 
quite different. Rassim had been dismissed because of 
her cruelty, Ali and Mustafa had gone, and an old lady 
housekeeper and a young Circassian boy were living in 
the house, the housekeeper looking after her father and 
Halide herself. Her father was going regularly to the 
palace again as in the old days. His tall groom with 
that lovely big bay horse used to stand by the door in 
the mornings, and the little girl would ride the horse be- 
fore her father came out, her small feet dangling and the 
groom leading the horse by the bridle very gravely up 
and down the street. At last the father would come 

10 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

down-stairs and ride away followed by his groom on a 
white horse, while the little girl strained her eyes to get 
the last look of them as they disappeared round the turn- 
ing of the long, stately road to Yildiz Kiosk. 

She missed Ali badly, and even Rassim who had been 
so cruel she missed too. The atmosphere of excitement 
and disorder had gone. No one talked of a picture on 
a dead woman's breast and a man's tears. The father 
was mostly away in the palace, staying even at night, 
when it was his turn to be on duty. 

It was now that the event which is somewhat like a 
symbol of her lifelong temperament occurred. 

On the long divan, covered with white cloth, sat the 
old lady housekeeper, a kind and hard-working creature, 
leaning over her darning continually; the young Cir- 
cassian sat at the table, lost in his books, for he was get- 
ting ready for a school education. (Her father had a 
mania for taking poor young men under his protection 
and sending them to school.) She, the little girl, was 
left to herself. There was no one scolding her or filling 
her mouth with black pepper for telling about things she 
did not know. There was complete silence. The 
father was no longer shedding tears by the flicker of a 
single candle. Her loneliness seemed suddenly to have 
taken the form of a tangible hardness in her throat. 
The woman with the long coiling plaits and wonderful 
eyes was no more. What was this silence about? 
Why had she no one to cuddle close to and go to sleep 
with? There was no answer to her unspoken question- 
ing. Still only that dead silence. The next moment 

11 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

she stood in the middle of the room and spoke her mind 
out: 

"I want my father!" 

"He is at the palace." 

"I want my father!" 

"He will come back to-morrow." 

"I want my father!" 

"He cannot come, dear. The gates of the palace are 
closed at night, and the whole place is kept by guards." 

"I want my father!" 

Gradually the little voice rose and rose in hoarse and 
piercing howls of pain which she herself internally noted 
as strange. On and on it went, rising and howling till 
the Greek neighbors came in one by one -to help the old 
lady housekeeper to calm and soothe her, their voices 
making a still greater noise than the little girl. The 
place was a Christian quarter — Armenians and Greeks 
were the only neighbors — and the Greeks of Constan- 
tinople talk louder than anybody else, especially if they 
are women. But there were twenty wild beasts ranging 
in the little girl's breast, making her howl and howl with 
pain till she caught sight of a pail of cold water brought 
by a Greek woman to stop her crying. 

"She may catch cold." 

"But she will burst if she goes on like that." 

"O Panagia" (Holy Mother), "pour it on her head." 

And pour it they did, which gave the old housekeeper 
the extra trouble of changing her clothes, but for the rest 
caused a sudden catch in her breath which stopped her 
for an instant only to begin louder and louder, wilder 

12 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

and wilder, the next moment. ... It was the symbol of 
the force of her desires in later years, the same uncon- 
trollable passion for things, which she rarely wanted, 
but which, once desired, must be obtained at all costs; 
the same passionate longing although no longer ex- 
pressed by sobbing or howling. 

Finally the old lady housekeeper and the Greek 
women beg the young Circassian to take the child to the 
palace. 

It was almost midnight as the young man carried her 
in his arms through the guarded streets of Yildiz. He 
stopped at each tall soldier whose bayonet flashed un- 
der the street oil-lamps. 

"Who goes there?" 

And the young Circassian placed the little girl in the 
lamplight and showed her swollen face: 

"It is Edib Bey's daughter. She would have died 
with crying if I had n't promised to bring her to her 
father. Her mother died. . . ." 

And the soldier, who probably had seen the mother's 
coffin pass not long ago, let them go on. 

The little girl began to watch calmly and with pleas- 
ure the dimly lighted white road, the long shadows of 
the guards, while she heard the distant bark of the street 
dogs. She was not going to be knocked down by lone- 
liness and dead silence any longer. 

Before the gigantic portals which led immediately to 
the quarters where her father worked she and the Cir- 
cassian youth were stopped once more. No one was 
allowed to pass the palace gates after midnight. . . . 

13 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

But sometimes a little girl and her heart's desire are 
stronger than the iron rules of a great despot. The 
guards are human and probably have little daughters of 
their own in their villages. There is a long wait. A 
man in black dress comes to the door. He looks at the 
little girl by the lamplight and lets her pass on. At 
last they reach the father's apartment. He looks at her 
with astonishment and perhaps with pain. He has just 
jumped out of bed because there is a rumor of some 
little girl at the palace door crying for her father. . . . 
On a bed opposite the father's lies a fat man with an 
enormous head who is blinking at the scene. (He is 
Hakki Bey, later on the famous grand vizir.) Every 
one no doubt expects her to jump into her father's arms, 
but her attention is caught by the quilt on her father's 
bed. It is bright yellow . . . and the night is closed in 
her memory with that bright patch of the hated color. 

Another short interval, and we are back in granny's 
wisteria-covered house again now. She sleeps in the 
large room where she was born, looking over that lovely 
garden. Three large windows open over the long, nar- 
row divan, covered with the traditional clean white cloth 
of all Turkish divans. There is a red carpet on the floor 
and the curtains are white. Purple wisteria is in bloom, 
sunlight patches fall on the white cover under the open 
windows, a brilliant blue sky smiles over all, and the little 
girl is faint with color and beauty and the smell of it all. 
Before one window on a bright red cushion sits granny. 
She is in reality a very beautiful woman, but the little 

14 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

girl does not feel it. Her granny's eyes do not trouble 
her. In her little head and heart she is unconsciously 
aware of those people whose eyes make her uneasy, make 
her think; and the rest of human beings she ignores. 
Her granny has a very large white face. Her silky red 
hair waves and curls over her dazzlingly white shoulders 
and neck. Her eyes are pale gray and subdued. So 
are her small pink lips. Over a white transparent 
chemise she wears a light brown loose dress, a large white 
muslin collar, and sleeves rolled back over her gown. 
A Persian shawl encircles her waist. A light muslin 
print, worked with delicate Turkish embroidery, covers 
her head. The little girl is quieter and less afraid of 
unknown things when she sleeps in her little bed by her 
granny. The beds are Turkish beds, laid out every eve- 
ning on the carpet and gathered up in the morning and 
put away. 

There is one person whose eyes she is rather conscious 
of. He is a tall old man, and his eves are dark and 
strong and stern. But they can be soft and tender too, 
and the Anatolian accent with which he tells her about 
the Russian wars in eastern Turkey she remembers be- 
cause of those eyes. He is from Kemah and is illiterate 
but has been the chief of coffee-makers in the palace of 
Prince Reshad (the late Mohammed V). There are 
any amount of such chiefs in palace households — the 
chief of the tobacco-makers, the chief of the candle- 
bearers, the chief of the jug-holders, the chief of the 
royal dressers, the chief of the carpet-layers. And the 
chiefs do things which have nothing to do with their 

15 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

titles. They are mostly rich men with summer resorts 
and winter residences. But her grandfather is not rich. 
He has been too honest to be that, and the great sums he 
had legitimately gained had oozed away between the 
fair fingers of the white-faced, gray-eyed, golden-haired 
Constantinopolitan lady, my granny. He still regards 
his beautiful wife with wonder. He had taken her from 
an old ecclesiastical and aristocratic family of the sacred 
city of Eyoub. She was related to the keepers of the 
Holy Tomb there, and she had brought with her a very 
rich dowry of both goods and slaves. But both hers and 
his had passed out of her hands by the very simple sys- 
tem of giving more than she received all her life. He is 
perhaps embittered by her extravagance, for he talks 
of debts and money difficulties, which makes her uneasy 
in an indefinite way. It is like the love-affair of Rassim 
and Ali to the little Halide. She suffers from it and 
does not know why. 

In the old wooden house at this time too there is living 
a liberated "palace lady." 2 She is a small wizened Cir- 
cassian and occupies the upper apartments of the house. 
She calls granny "mother." In former days granny 
had connections in the palace, and because of her hus- 
band's position she used to be quite a habitue there. So 
this palace lady had come to her when her services had 
ended at the Kiosk. She has wonderful jewelry, Eu- 
ropean furniture, a white slave, and gorgeous dresses. 
Her official post had been that of teacher of the women 

2 That is, one of those who formerly held a position in the sultan's palace 
but who have been retired. 

16 




05 

o 

05 

o 
< 






THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

in the palace, and she is really a woman of learning and 
has a library. Mysteriously too she was the head dancer 
of the rabbit-dance. What this rabbit-dance is the little 
girl does not know but she remembers in winter nights 
the short skirts with gold fringes and gold sequins which 
the owner lays out and from which she strips off the 
gold, with the little girl's gay help, and sends it away to 
be sold. 

There is a young uncle now also, and a little boy, the 
orphan of another uncle who is dead. The old house- 
keeper, the ruddy Circassian slave, the man-servant who 
is always a native of grandfather's country — Kemah — 
are the dramatis persona of this interval. But the 
little girl has not formed human connections yet. All 
these people move outside her sphere. She knows two 
classes of people and two ages: "Children" are all 
little girls and continue to live in child-dom till they 
take the veil. . . . That happens when they are ten 
years old, and they then join the grown-ups forever 
after. All the grown-ups are the same and of the same 
age whether they are twelve or fifty. Boys are emphat- 
ically not children. They dress like men, or rather as 
they did at that time, and they are disagreeable and 
noisy. If there is anything in the world to dislike, for 
her, it is boys. They are almost like the ugly, noisy 
musical box which her mother played, still echoing in 
her brain as a continual false note. If there is anything 
in her heart that can be called a decided liking, it is for 
men, especially for those who have white beards and eyes 
that one feels and remembers. 

17 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

One day an elder sister appeared at granny's. 
Where she had been and why she came all of a sudden 
the little girl did not know. They whisper round her 
that the sister's father, an aide-de-camp of Abdul 
Hamid's, had been exiled with all the rest of her fam- 
ily. Why her sister has another father and why she 
calls the little girl's father "father" only came to be un- 
derstood much later. At present, there she simply is, 
a brilliant creature, with crimson cheeks, curly black 
hair, and burning eyes. 

When she arrived she brought boxes of sweets for 
Halide and for her little boy cousin. She kissed them 
both but all the same treated them like inferiors and 
ordered them about very freely. She was the very 
scourge of Allah in the house, as the uncle expressed it. 
She broke the little girl's toys, climbed trees like a little 
boy; she showed shocking disrespect to the palace 
lady and even made the poor quiet granny weep some- 
times. 

This period in the big wisteria-covered house came to 
an end with the visit of the young Circassian who had 
carried her to the palace on that strange midnight in his 
arms. He was now a regular student at a very big 
school, and as he was now called Mehmed Effendi by the 
household, the little girl realized that he was a personage 
to be respected and no longer a mere boy. 

When the slave-girl Fikriyar one day called granny 
out to the selamlik (the men's side of the house) the 
little girl followed her, and standing by the door which 
shuts the women's apartments, she listened to the talk. 

18 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

She could not make out the conversation clearly but she 
knew that the meaning is this : 

Her father has married again. His new wife is the 
young granddaughter of the old lady housekeeper who 
used to look after our home when Hassim's rule ceased. 
Granny cried softly on hearing the news, and Mehmed 
Effendi went on giving details. 

What is marriage? Why does granny cry 9 

The little girl and the sister were carefully dressed. 
The little girl was kissed tenderly by every one as if they 
were taking leave of her by an open grave. And the 
two little girls walked away with Mehmed Effendi, to 
visit, so she understood, the new wife. 

The house where her father was living was still in 
Yildiz but not in the old quarter. This was a smaller 
house, not so high up the hill and in rather a narrow 
street inhabited by Greeks and Armenians. The place 
was near the pine groves which are called Ihlamour, the 
Linden Grove. The large grove had a casino, and 
every Friday and Sunday there was music. Men and 
women went in crowds, the women sitting behind im- 
provised lattices, which looked queer in an open place. 
But the little girl loved to go there later on when she 
occasionally escaped from home, and played on the pine- 
needles, listened to the soft hissing of the pines, gath- 
ered pine-seeds, and looked longingly across to the house 
with wisteria on the other side of the hills where the 
Moslem population and her granny dwelt. 

But now the Circassian youth was leading them 
through the winding paths of the grove, holding both of 

19 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

them by the hand and telling the elder sister to behave 
and be polite. 

"Her grandmother was a housekeeper," snapped she. 

"How dare you? She was a lady with a house of her 
own," scolded the Circassian youth. 

"She was a housekeeper." 

"No, but anyhow now she is the mother-in-law of the 
Bey Effendi." 

The little girl has heard this term "housekeeper" used 
by her own granny in disdainful tones when of late years 
the two houses had had a womanly feud, each accusing 
the other of witchcraft, backbiting, and plebeian origins. 

They arrived at last. The door was opened by the 
old lady, and the little girl found herself in an atmos- 
phere of the greatest tension. She became the central 
figure, and every one seemed to watch her with intense 
pity and curiosity. The house was in perfect order and 
very quiet. Up-stairs in the father's room sat the new 
wife sewing, while he was walking nervously up and 
down. The new wife was a creature of very pretty 
coloring, a pink face, a small pink mouth, blue eyes, 
and a long rich plait of pale golden hair. She was 
dressed in a dark blue costume ( English fashion, as they 
call it ) , and over her pretty hair was a bright green silk 
Turkish kerchief. The little girl's first impression was 
that of sensuous pleasure in this pretty combination of 
colors. She felt just as she feels when she sees an 
almond-tree in blossom, and she jumped into the lady's 
lap and began to kiss her. The scene must have pro- 
duced a surprising effect, for the father and the old lady 

20 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

began to wipe their eyes. The little girl learned much 
later that the father had agonized over the thought of 
this meeting, although the little girl was hardly four 
years old. The father supposed her to have an extraor- 
dinary sensibility, but the truth is that her sensibility 
to persons and nature or to things in general were just 
the same. If she cried when she saw any human being 
cry, she sobbed when she saw a poor street dog stoned 
by boys. But she did not know yet the meaning of 
mother, death, or other serious things. To her every 
phenomenon was of the same order. After all this 
might be the true meaning of life, although for her from 
this time forward nature and man appeared from very 
different angles. 

In the evening when she saw that the sister was to go 
and she to stay she felt a painful pressure at her heart. 
She did not cry, but she felt heavy and shy in the new 
atmosphere. If she could have analyzed the acute suf- 
fering which timidity causes she would have known her 
true state. 

Fortunately an old man with a white beard dropped 
on the scene and made things easier by the mere mild 
look of his blue and friendly eyes. He was the new 
wife's uncle, and he gave her nuts and pistachios — se- 
cretly, however, for she was allowed only milk in the 
evenings. He took her on his knees, talked to her, 
caressed her hair, and showed neither curiosity nor pity, 
treating her all the time as an equal. But the wife's 
mother and sisters, who arrived later to see the step- 
daughter of their relative, studied and criticized her 

21 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

very freely. "What an unusual coloring! Would yov, 
call her dark?" 

"No, stupid! Look what fair hair she has. It is 
yellow." 

"Yellow! No indeed. Corn-colored I should say. 
Come here! What funny hair! It is almost white at 
the ends. Her nose is like a little potato; and what 
big lips she has!" 

"Look at me, little girl! Oh, what eyes! They are 
not like a little girl's. They are quite uncanny." 
(There is whispering and much mysterious talking at 
this point.) 

"They are too large! Oh, look away, little girl! I 
don't like her to look at me." 

The humiliation and the torture of it! She is aware 
of her bodily self for the first time, and that with in- 
finite distress. She feels that she must look like a toad, 
or an ugly bush with no pretty leaves, two things which 
have struck her as disagreeable. She realizes that her 
skin is not pink and her eyes not blue, and she begins to 
suffer from the presence of the people who have blue 
eyes and fair complexions. To this day she can feel the 
twinge and the stab in her heart which blue-eyed people 
with pink faces for years caused her. 

Yet life in her father's home with the new wife is far 
from being disagreeable, for before long she has her 
first love-affair. 

This all-important love-affair is preceded by. the de- 
velopment of some other important likes and dislikes 
in her soul. The first of these is concerning her clothes. 

22 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

Now her father Edib Bey, secretary of his Majesty 
Abdul Hamid, had a strong admiration for the English 
and their way of bringing up children. He believed 
that the secret of their greatness was due to this, and so 
his method of bringing up his first-born was strongly 
influenced by English ways as he had read of them in 
books. He occupied himself personally with her 
dresses, underclothing, shoes, and stockings — even 
handkerchiefs. Turkey having, however, not yet en- 
tered the road of reform and modernism by a slavish imi- 
tation of English outward apparel, he did not make her 
wear a hat. As a matter of fact it would never have 
done for him even to express a desire to do such a thing, 
for hats were the outward and visible sign of Christians, 3 
yet he only covered her head in winter with a kalpak 
(that snug Caucasian head-dress which for some subtle 
reason ranks with f ezzes and tarbooshes rather than with 
hats and bonnets) and let her go bareheaded in the 
summer. 

She wore short, dark blue frocks in winter, all 
English-made, and white linen in the summer. Her 
arms and legs were bare after the manner of English 
children, which shocked her granny and made her anx- 
ious lest she should catch cold. 

But the little girl's objections were not as to the 
weather and its changes. She looked different from 
other children of her age and class. She attracted at- 
tention, and she was envious of the gorgeous-colored silk 
gowns, frills and ribbons, even jewels, with which other 

3 No good Mohammedan could wear the accursed things. 

23 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

little girls were decked. To this day she feels occa- 
sional longings for gaudy colors and vulgar apparel al- 
though her true tastes are quite otherwise. 

Next it was her diet. The Turkish children of her 
class were allowed to eat anything. They bought deli- 
cious red sugar cocks perched on sticks, licked hard 
sweetmeats of all shapes, colors, and tastes, while the 
little girl had a strict diet — some meat and vegetables, 
a very little fruit at meal-times and only milk in the 
evening. How she hated milk and loved fruit of all 
kinds! She longed to stuff herself with those wonder- 
ful cherries, raw cucumbers, and boiled corn that other 
people had, till she should not be able to move for very 
repletion. This severe regime left her with a great 
weakness for fruit, and a great hatred for milk and for 
the English system of bringing up children. Yes, if 
this diet, and the daily sponge-bath and the stuff they 
dropped into her eyes had been canceled, she would have 
been tolerably happy in her father's home. 

If she were inferior to other human beings, and dif- 
ferent in a sense which made her have more in com- 
mon with a plant or a young animal, she was at any 
rate superior to them in heart affairs. Although she 
was under the influence of all kinds of beauty and her 
five senses were wildly alive to colored objects and 
beautiful sounds and so on, she was above men in her 
love as a real dog is above human beings. 

Kyria Ellenie (Madame Ellen) was the head of the 
so-called kindergarten where little girls and some very 
small boys of the neighborhood were sent. It was kept 

24 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

by three Greek spinsters, Kyria Ellenie being the 
eldest. The children were mostly Greek and Arme- 
nian and the daughters of the Christian chiefs of Abdul 
Hamid, such as the chief of the bakers, the chief of the 
chemists, the chief of the booksellers, and so on. . . . 
The little girl was the only Turkish child there. She 
did not remember how she came to go first but she never 
forgot her intensest, sincerest, and perhaps longest love- 
affair. Its object was Kyria Ellenie. As the little 
girl was always laughed at because of the old lady's 
looks and her own weakness for them it is best to de- 
scribe the old lady at once. Her large lips turned one 
up and the other down in a most unprepossessing way. 
Her small eyes were always running; her thin cheeks 
were all in lines and deep furrows. The limp gray 
hair hung on her temples; the wiry hard hands, with 
their toil-worn look, and her tall thin body in its loose 
black garments, completed the picture. Her outward 
ugliness was phenomenal but the little girl both with 
her natural and spiritual senses had perceived her in- 
ward beauty. No other human eyes had expressed 
that dog-like affection in its purest sense and beauty 
as did those blinking and watery ones. The cheeks 
must have got those deep marks through suffering for 
others, while that stooping posture of the body ex- 
pressed a solicitude and eagerness to serve the forlorn 
little girls. 

Till the little one came within the touch of that loving 
and humble old thing she was rather like a stranger in 
this funny world, like a dweller in Hades waiting to 

25 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

be initiated. All her impressions and joys were so far 
outward. In her inner self she was entirely isolated. 
She had no heart communication, which is what per- 
haps gives the real significance to human happiness. 
So far she had been internally in a lonely and expectant 
attitude, or rather patiently enduring her surroundings 
with the dumb and helpless feeling of a dog thrown into 
a world of different animals or of uncongenial human 
beings. I have seen little street dogs sitting in the sun 
in old Turkish quarters and blinking with just that 
look which expressed to me the little girl's state of 
heart. But that old teacher gave her the first life con- 
tact. She was no longer in Hades dozing in a sunless 
and sfrrange atmosphere. There was a new life in her. 
She was no longer morbid and quiet. For the first 
time she made joyous movements, played happily with 
gestures which were not merely physical demonstra- 
tions but something more subjective and conscious. 
There was a wonderful security, a nameless delight in 
the old woman's presence. The little girl spoke, sang, 
and recited, happy to be able to give herself in humble 
gratitude for the other woman's warm heart. 

But in this affair as in all similar ones the pangs and 
the drawbacks of love began. Kyria Ellenie had to go 
out sometimes to buy such things as vegetables and 
meat for her household. Then a demoniac howling 
would begin. It was either a repetition of that night 
when the portals of the palace were opened for her or 
a dumb wandering all over the house like some one 
searching for the beloved in her belongings, or like a 

26 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

little dog sniffing to discover the scent of its owner. 
The house was Turkish in its furnishings — the same 
immaculate white-covered divans and the large chest 
of drawers. The two traditional lamps and an old 
clock stood side by side in a row. The large quantity 
of dainty hand-made lace showed years of hand labor 
in the lonely life of the old spinster, while in a dim cor- 
ner stood a panagia (icon of the Virgin Mary), an old 
oil-lamp flickering in front of it. Whenever the elder 
sister came to visit the little girls in the school she 
stealthily went up-stairs and tried to put the light out, 
whispering secretly to the little girl: "It is Christian. 
It is sinful." What did that all mean to the little girl? 
She had not entered yet that narrow human path where 
religion and language as well as racial differences make 
human beings devour each other. The little girl was 
still in a world where the joy of life is heart fusion and 
natural existence. 

Her next attachment was the white curly dog Hec- 
tor, who had running eyes like Kyria Ellenie. The 
dog licked her face and her hands twice daily, in the 
morning and in the evening. 

This happy state of things went on for some time, 
she with her dolls and the dog and the joyous stimulus 
which her first taste of life had given her. 

The Greek funerals passed by the door with priests 
in gorgeous garments and long trains held by little 
boys carrying candles in their free hands ; the corpse on 
the coffin, decked in its best clothes, its face powdered 

27 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and rouged, the low Byzantine chant hummed in cav- 
ernous tones "Kyrie Eleison." She used to put her 
dog in a swing, clothe herself in Kyria Ellenie's long 
black shawl, and march up and down the room singing 
in dead earnestness "Kyrie Eleison." 

She is sometimes put on a table by Kyria Ellenie 
and asked to recite about the naughty cock that woke 
people in the morning. The little girl did not realize 
that she spoke two languages, one at school and one at 
home. Language to her was a mere gesture, and one 
used one or the other according to the person who un- 
derstood this or that way of expression. 

All this came to a rather sad end. She began to 
mope, to droop, and to feel desperately heavy; every- 
thing seeming to move round her in a slow and sickly 
swing. Every morning quite unconsciously she made 
a pretense of looking bright, so that she might not be 
kept at home, but every evening she walked home with 
a hammer beating in her brains. Every day she sat 
and gazed at Kyria Ellenie, but she did not imitate 
the Greek priests any more. When Kyria Ellenie put 
her on the table she still tried to recite about the 
naughty cock, but her voice as it came out of her mouth 
seemed to burn her like a flame. 

One day as she painfully struggled upon the table to 
recite about the cock the swinging around became too 
sickly, and although she still went on, her eyes probably 
had a queer look, for Kyria Ellenie caught her in her 
arms and carried her home. This incident she remem- 
bered clearly years after, when she was addressing a 

28 



THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL 

public meeting with a temperature of 102 degrees; 
but on the second occasion naturally no one caught her. 
Thus ended her first love and her happy life at school. 

She lay in bed for days with that dumb hot sickness 
and the nauseating swing of the furniture and the ceil- 
ing keeping tune with the hammering on her head. 

For how many days and nights she knows not — it 
was endless — Greek neighbors came in and brought her 
sweets and talked in those high and shrill tones peculiar 
to Greek women of Istamboul. Men called doctors 
gathered round her bed and talked in low tones while 
the father openly cried and the new wife looked un- 
easy. Finally the doctors must have prescribed her 
a grandmother, for one morning this satisfactory rem- 
edy arrived in a closed carriage and took her away. 
Once more she was lifted in the arms of the Circassian 
youth; once more the wisteria-covered house entered 
her life vision. 



29 



CHAPTER II 

WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

THE brown childish orbs, brilliant and troubled 
in some unfathomable way, looked at me won- 
deringly. The next moment I had put a small 
hand over the mirror and covered those painful 
interrogation-points, leaving visible only the unformed 
round chin and the patch of red lips of the little girl. 
I realized then for the first time that this face, which 
people as a rule considered something unusual and un- 
like its environment, was mine. If I try to draw the 
portrait of the soul that belonged to the little face, I 
would describe it as two liquid, reddish brown eyes 
full of tragic anxiety and painful wonder at the funny 
species she belonged to, or asking such wordless ques- 
tions as these: Who are they? Who am I? This 
white-faced woman whom I call granny and who is in- 
dispensable to me at night when I go to bed — she is a 
stranger; so are the others, so am I. What is a face? 
And what are eyes and these funny sensibilities? 
Does everybody feel the same? I have this internal 
smile which, translated into grown-up language, means 
humor. It makes me strangely aloof at times, and 
arouses a tiresome childish contempt, of which, only 
later, I learn the value and proper use. There is this 

30 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

internal catch too which squeezes one's throat and 
brings the water into one's eyes which people call tears. 
There is no reason why I should have these yet, for life 
is almost stagnant in its outside repose and quiet ; noth- 
ing but the beautifully familiar setting and the famil- 
iar faces with their familiar looks. 

Another vague feeling is taking shape and becom- 
ing dominant. It is the feeling with which I have had 
to fight the hardest and longest. It is fear. I cannot 
yet explain it in human terms, for in some way I feel 
that we share it, more than our other feelings, with the 
other kinds of creatures which people call animals. It 
defined itself for me first of all in a cemetery where 
one of our men-servants took us to play one morning. 
The low moan, the somber velvety sound, and the 
strange uncanny movements of the cypresses were all 
round us. We were playing in a hollow place with 
some other children, holding each other's hands, when 
the servant suddenly called out, "It is coming!" 
What was coining? I did not know, yet I felt dis- 
tinctly the cold creepy tremor down my back and the 
dampness on my palms and head which coincided later 
with what we call fear. The children scattered and 
ran wildly about. The servant himself seemed very 
much upset and told us stories on the way home about 
the cypresses. "Although they look like trees," he 
said, "at night they turn into holy men in green turbans 
who haunt the gardens and rubbish-heaps. I just felt 
them move. I am sure they did not like our playing 
among their trunks." 

31 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I can trace the distinct emergence of these two feel- 
ings, fear and — later on — pity, besides that other queer 
twitch of the soul, or the internal smile. But this last 
sensation is interwoven with a great many others. 
Whenever I have had spiritual tension, extreme sub- 
jective consciousness, especially in the form of anxiety, 
then this smile has become an internal expansion and 
has prevented petrifaction. Otherwise I should have 
turned into a stone long ago on this uphill road of life, 
where, apart from my own loads to carry, a new people 
was being born; and the birth of any living thing, ani- 
mal or human, is the supreme pain and the one signif- 
icant event in this dried-up old world. 

The story of the little girl is my own henceforth. As 
I go on painting my life at that time as sincerely as I 
possibly can, I realize that the me inside the almost 
strange body of mine is giving place to the external me, 
the flesh and blood me, and I am passing gradually out 
of that early inward consciousness into the common 
reality of life. I am no longer so distinct from other 
people. I am a part of the huge congregation of hu- 
man beings, and I am doing as they do. So I may as 
well transfer the story entirely to the first person. 

The wisteria-covered house in Beshiktash stands on 
one of the many bare hills which are now more or less 
built over. At that time they presented a large expanse 
of ground of many colors — the somber green of the 
vegetable-gardens and orchards, which took the place of 
parks, where women and children went to eat plums 
and cherries and cucumbers beside dark pools under 

32 




THE CEMETERY WHERE I PLAYED AS A CHILD 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

cool trees; the brilliant coloring of the hyacinth and 
tuberose gardens, stretching in brilliant patches of pur- 
ple, yellow, white, and rich pinks and sending their rich 
perfumes in waves all over the place, while the dark 
shades of the pine-groves stood behind them as a natural 
background. 

On Fridays the place would be full of children in 
bright-colored silk dresses, boys in long pantaloons, 
some ridiculously decked out in miniature generals' uni- 
forms with golden epaulettes and driving about in 
grand carriages; the toy-sellers of Eyoub, carrying on 
their backs toys of the most glaring gilt and colors; 
the sweetmeat sellers shouting, and the water-carriers 
tinkling their glasses — whistles, rattles, bells — an in- 
fernal noise and the characteristic dust-cloud in which 
they all moved. 

I think I should have enjoyed the bright dresses and 
the general gaiety of color and sound, although it was 
so vulgar, if an incident had not stamped the whole place 
and the whole show with a horrible memory for me. 

Just as we were leaving the crowd one day, dragged 
by the man-servant along the winding road behind the 
hyacinth fields, we heard a long howl of a strange quality 
— so strange indeed that it made me shiver — and the 
servant looked right and left furtively, trying to locate 
it. Finally he plunged with us into a thorny by-path, 
pulling me and my sister so fast that we almost tore our 
clothes in the prickly bushes. I remember so well the 
unwholesome human curiosity he showed, just as crowds 
do at certain times for some spectacle of suffering. At 

33 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the end of the path there was a ditch, and on the other 
side of the ditch an old wall had fallen on a dog, crushing 
half of its body under the stones. 

It is full thirty years if not more since I saw and felt 
that scene. But I still distinctly see that yellow dog, 
with its clear yellow eyes, trying to get out with its fore 
paws, quivering, struggling in agony, and looking with 
that wonderful dumb appeal in its almost human eyes; 
while at intervals a pitiful howl escaped from its jaws, 
sending an incredibly painful note into the air, wolf 
fashion. The servant looked amused, while a few boys 
threw stones at it, delighted to see its helpless wriggle 
and to hear its howl. 

This was a symbolic and ominous revelation for me of 
the ugly instinct which stains the human species. I 
hated to belong to it, in my childish and unconscious 
way, and I have realized since that no brute beast causes 
pain and commits cruelty for the simple pleasure of 
watching it. The cruelties which animals may commit 
in the course of their struggle for existence are too often 
done by us as a mere pleasure spectacle. I have seen 
this repeated in other times and in other ways, and each 
time it has given me the same physical horror and the 
same sickly pain as if a knife were cutting my body in 
two through my stomach. I hated the boys, the man- 
servant, and the new revelation of life, which simply 
saturated me with an aching pain. My other self, the 
one who is distinct, and usually trying to make out the 
meanings of things intellectually, in such grave moments 

34 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

becomes one with my physical self. If Allah had had 
mercy on me He would have stopped my life after this 
glimpse and spared me that queer, sharp, cutting pain 
so often repeated, that I have longed again and again 
to be anything except a human being. It is strange that 
whenever I have gone through this sensation of being cut 
in two, my dual personality has ceased, and I have be- 
come one raging revolting soul. This first glimpse, 
however, was too much for me. I don't know to this 
day how we got home, but I know that I was ill for a 
long time afterward. I lay quietly on granny's white 
sofa and she said to people: "She has been frightened 
by a dog. We are calling in the hod j as to cure her." 
I could not exj)lain that it was not fright; I hardly knew 
what it was myself. I patiently lay where I was and 
let the holy men in green turbans come and read the 
Koran in undertones and breathe its holy virtue into 
my face. 

It is now that I realized Arzie Hanum * for the first 
time. She burnt incense in my room, made queer ges- 
tures, and begged the fairies (peris) to set me free. 

In the meantime father called daily, and, quite indig- 
nant at all this superstitious show, he brought in the 
famous German doctor called the old Miilich, who 
stuffed me with all sorts of disagreeable medicines. 

With due respect to microbes and scientific explana- 
tions of human diseases, I must confess that most of 
my illnesses have coincided with some moral shock and 

i Hanum is lady and corresponds approximately to either Mrs. or Miss. 

35 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

that physical weakness has come with temporary loss 
of interest in life, while any new attachment or interest 
has made me leap back into life like a living arrow. 

The long, dreary illness, with the vision of the misery 
of that half-crushed dog and its solitary howl of pain as 
well as the fiendish boys throwing stones at it, gradu- 
ally receded before the more intimate initiation into the 
human atmosphere around me. People and scenes be- 
came more real, and I was grasping at meanings and 
groping for contacts. 

I was having my first playmate too at this time. In 
fact perhaps she was the last also, for I never had any 
other friends in the same sense till my college years. 
She was the daughter of a tablaker. 2 She was the same 
little girl who had made my mother play on that horrible 
instrument ever so long ago. Mother had somehow be- 
friended the family, consisting of the mother, Ayesha 
Hanum, a Cesarean woman who spoke a thick Anato- 
lian dialect, her three daughters, one son, and her nice 

2 Tablak&r means tray-bearer. Hundreds of them belonged to the royal 
kitchen. One saw them moving about in great numbers in Yildiz, carrying 
enormous round trays, covered with black cloth, on their heads. Each tray 
was destined for some royal lady or some official or attendant of the 
sultan's. Although these men had low salaries, yet they were well to do; 
each had built himself a house in Beshiktash (a village on the Bosphorus 
near Yildiz) and kept their families in Constantinople. All this was done 
by selling the surplus food to Beshiktash people. Most of the houses 
bought their food from the royal kitchens through these people. As the 
royal kitchens were behind the bureau where my father worked in Yildiz 
Palace, I used to watch its colossal proceedings with intense delight. The 
enormous barrels of butter which they used to roll in, and roll out again 
when they were empty, attracted me most. I wondered how many little 
girls could be put in and allowed to play inside one of them; and to my 
childish imagination it seemed as if thirty small people could comfortably 
sit inside and do as they wished. 

36 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

simple husband. The second daughter, who was always 
ill, came to be tended by my mother, who had lots of 
home-made medicines with which she helped the neigh- 
bors very generously, and she had a great reputation for 
household accomplishments and for her charitable aid. 
Shayeste, the youngest daughter of this family, was a 
hard, healthy, and somehow servile little girl, and my 
reasons for choosing her as a playmate seem selfish and 
almost ugly as I analyze them now. It is curious how 
the vain and the futile parts of a woman appear uncon- 
sciously in a little girl. She was the darkest little girl 
I knew, and having acquired an impression from my 
stepmother's relations that it is only fair people with 
blue eyes who are beautiful, and suffering from the be- 
lief that I was not fair enough for this, Shayeste's con- 
trast to me gave me a foolish pleasure. Her neck was 
so dark, so like leather, her hands so brown, that I used 
to think she had never washed. I used often to put my 
hands near hers and feel a queer joy. The two looked 
like ivory and nutshell together. In fact there was 
something so much like a nutshell in her coloring alto- 
gether that my sister called her the Nut-rat (Funduk 
Faresi, i. e., the mouse) . 

She had a picturesque way of chattering, her small 
black eyes looking in all directions like a rat, and her 
hands moving violently. I hardly listened, but she went 
on all the same. One of her virtues was that she never 
questioned me, for there was nothing in life which put 
me out more than being questioned. Internally I was 
so locked up and so walled in by my own self that 

37 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

questions were an intrusion, a forcing open of the door 
of my soul against my will. Years later when I have 
been interviewed I have often thought of my childish 
days with sad amusement. Another reason for this sen- 
sibility was perhaps a timidity carried to a morbid de- 
gree. I felt, and still feel, spiritually undressed when 
some one is trying to peer into the inner life of my 
thought and feelings, although I can freely give myself 
at times to other people or to the public without being 
asked. Later, when I have been brought into promi- 
nence by the papers, either in the way of exaggerated 
praise or of attack, I have felt that Allah must certainly 
have an ironical turn of mind to enjoy striking people 
thus in their weakest points. 

Shayeste's other virtue perhaps was her stupidity. 
Intellectual companionship is indispensable to me like 
food at intervals, but the constant presence of a highly 
active mind is a constant fatigue. One is conscious of 
another life too intensely all the time. Little Shayeste 
and I certainly did not tire each other. I hardly talked 
to her, and I remember our housekeeper constantly say- 
ing, "Halide Hanum, have n't you got a tongue? Why 
do you only shake your head ?" But I did talk to myself 
a great deal when I was alone, and Shayeste was the 
only person in whose presence I lived on as if I were 
entirely by myself. 

We played in a large rectangular marble hall which 
opened upon the garden on one side and the selamlik 
on the other. From the middle of it old-fashioned 

38 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

double flying staircases went up to granny's apartment, 
and on the stairs enormous windows, all wisteria-muffled, 
opened on the neighbors' gardens. The light through 
the purple blossoms, and through the garden door from 
which vines crept up to the top windows, combined and 
made a delicious and cheerful sense through the place. 

I had another companion, an imaginary one, whom I 
called Alexi. It is a Greek name, and perhaps it was 
a reminiscence of Kyria Ellenie days. I talked mostly 
to this personage, sang to him sometimes so sadly that 
I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, some- 
times so cheerfully that I laughed and danced in pure 
glee. The memory of those strange performances 
makes me think that if I had been born in a European 
country I might have been an actress, although I should 
have been a queer sort of actress, performing only when 
the spirit moved me and when I was free from self- 
consciousness and was persuaded that I had some beau- 
tiful message to give to the audience. 

Shayeste took no notice of my antics. When I went 
from the acting mood into the contemplative and silent 
one, I would sit on one of the steps and think to myself, 
while she quietly went on playing with my dolls on an- 
other. If it were cold we would go into the housekeep- 
er's room, where I kept all my toys. Dolls I loved; not 
the European-looking ones which my father brought 
me from the Pera shops but only those I made myself in 
my own way. With these I played till I was "too old 
to play" and had to do it in secret. It was in a way my 

39 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

embryonic novel-writing, for I made elaborate plots 
which the dolls enacted, all inevitably of a tragic and 
melancholy turn. 

Shayeste was I believe being haunted by the dim 
realization of sex brought about by the marriage of her 
eldest sister, who gave rather full descriptions to her 
friends, especially to my sister, who was nine years old 
at the time. Shayeste talked of marriages all the while. 
Marriages frightened me because my uncle Kemal 
would say whenever I was sullen or stubborn (my per- 
sonal method of being naughty), "Fikriyar, go and call 
the imam" (the priest) ; "I will marry her." 

Another charm of Shayeste's was her strength and 
energy, in contrast with which I was painfully delicate 
and physically lazy in the extreme. She did all the 
fetching and carrying for me. I so disliked any kind 
of physical movement that I almost objected to having 
a body at all. I did not see any necessity for it, and no 
physical movement in those days did I do voluntarily, 
not even eating or drinking. Next to timidity, this 
physical laziness was my dominating trait. Even now, 
although I work hard — often almost furiously — I feel 
this tendency very strongly. 

After dinner at sunset granny used to sit in her corner 
and read translated novels of adventure, while we were 
sent down to Hava Hanum's room to pass a few hours 
before we went to bed. 

Those were the evenings which gave me glimpses 
into the inner lives of the people around me. 

The central figure was Hava Hanum, my grand- 

40 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

mother's housekeeper and helper. Although she did the 
cooking she would never allow herself to be called a 
cook. "I cook because I love the lady," she would say. 
But she was regularly paid as long as granny could 
afford it. 

Her face was like wrinkled leather, but she had very 
bright energetic eyes and wore the trimmest and cleanest 
head-dresses and gowns imaginable. She affected 
slightly granny's pretty touch in dress and tried to imi- 
tate her grande dame manners, but in her heart she 
detested anything that was not bourgeois, and her real 
self was worth watching. 

In social standing she would be below granny, who 
had an old aristocratic family name, Nizami-zade, which, 
though she never used it, she was nevertheless proud of. 
She had married grandfather, who was below her in 
social status but who was both rich and honorable. 
Hava Hanum was of different origin. She was a mer- 
chant's daughter and a merchant's wife. They were 
very well to do till, according to her account, her hus- 
band married for the second time the widowed wife of 
his brother, and said that it was out of kindness. Polyg- 
amy being rare in the families who had no slaves, this 
brought bad luck to the household. Their house too was 
burnt down soon after in one of the big fires in Istam- 
boul, and he lost his money besides. Hava Hanum 
never told us if she was jealous of the second wife, but 
she had withdrawn her wise and thrifty management 
from her husband's house. All of that belonged to the 
past now. He had divorced his second wife after his 

41 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

final misfortune and retired to a Turkish monastery 
with his son, who was delicate. He asked Hava Han- 
um's forgiveness and confessed that all his domestic 
calamity was due to having made her suffer. This she 
told with a certain triumph in her voice. After this she 
had drifted into poverty and loneliness. It was now 
that Arzie Hanum, who had known her previously, 
pitied her and took her to her own house, promising to 
find something for her to do which would not injure her 
self-respect. 

Arzie Hanum had a story of her own too. When- 
ever Hava Hanum spoke of her I felt a lively curiosity, 
for Arzie Hanum was in Istamboul circles what Ma- 
dame Thebes is in Parisian ones. Besides I have vivid 
memories of her at our sick-beds. 

Arzie Hanum had been initiated into seeing the fu- 
ture at the birth of her first-born. When a Turkish 
woman had a baby in those days it was well known that 
for forty days she was dangerously exposed to peri in- 
fluence. In fact it was not safe for her to be left alone 
for a moment, and if she was poor and had no servants 
a neighbor would come in to stay in her room and would 
leave a broom behind the door if called out in an emer- 
gency; this keeps the spirits away. The woman has a 
Koran on her pillow and wears a red ribbon on her hair, 
and every evening incense is burned beside her to keep 
the evil ones at a distance. 

Some of these necessary details must have been 
omitted in Arzie Hanum's case, for she had a fit and 
the peris took possession of her spirit and she became a 

42 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

clairvoyant and went to all the fashionable houses, as 
well as the poor ones, in sickness, childbirth, or other 
calamity, such as when people were under the influence 
of witchcraft, sorcery, or the evil influence of those who 
are called Themselves. She seemed familiar with 
Rukiish Hanum, the chief young peri woman, and Yav- 
rou Bey, a sort of jeune premier of the peris and prob- 
ably the lover of Rukiish Hanum. 

Arzie Hanum lived in a charming tumbledown 
wooden house in a lost quarter of Scutari surrounded by 
a wild garden. She received her patients, or those who 
wanted her opinion on different things, in this house. 

She had a round good-natured face, with two brilliant 
black eyes which twinkled with humor and squinted 
when she went into a trance, that is, got in contact with 
Themselves. She would sit on a low cushion on the 
floor, incense burning in a silver cup before her, her 
fingers hurriedly going through a rosary, and her eye 
fixed on one particular spot of the ceiling. 

She talked and winked at the ceiling as naturally as 
she would to some familiar person. 

"Thou art not going to keep that child in thrall. 
No, don't be nasty now. Thou shalt have thy cock and 
a nice one. Get out of the way, Riikiish. Let me have 
it out with him." This to the ceiling. 

Now to the patient: 

"The man in question is living in a blue house. The 
street is narrow. Poor fellow, he bumps his head 
against the eaves. He is tight in the clutches of Yavrou 
Bey. He must have defiled some haunted rubbish- 

43 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

heap. 3 Let me see — no, it is a haunted fig-tree that he 
has offended. Yavrou! Now, now, you bring a cock 
that will appease him. And Rukiish will be pleased 
with red sugar in a red scarf." 

The demands of these young peris went up to lambs 
or gold pieces according as the station of the family be- 
came higher in the social scale. Marriages, divorces, 
family grievances and secrets all came to Arzie Hanum's 
house. A throng of people waited in the garden taking 
their turns patiently. She would do all this sometimes 
for nothing for the poor, and she helped old and be- 
reaved people and orphans in her quarter. She must 
have given sound and reasonable advice I presume, or 
there would have been more divorce cases among her 
clients than there were. 

Whenever granny went there, which was often in 
those days, I used to go with her to have Arzie pray 
over me and breathe her healing breath into my face. 
Then I would be sent out into the garden. Out there 
I always felt a tremor down my back. There used to 
be a dumb child with wild eyes, an orphan protege of 
hers. It had a shaven head and wore girl's clothes, so 
I could not make out what its sex was. It looked after 
the lambs which were always about in the garden, 
marked with red henna to please Yavrou Bey, to whom 
they were ostensible offerings. And there were beauti- 
ful cocks too which the queer child ran after, making 

3 Rubbish-heaps and fig-trees were the special haunts of the peris and 
one did well to avoid them entirely, but more especially at night. If one 
were obliged to intrude it was best to murmur, "May They be in good 
hour"; i. e., may this be a time when They are in good mood. 

44 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

all kinds of gestures and producing unearthly sounds. 
To me it was really Yavrou Bey's child, and the lambs 
were bewitched as well as the whole garden. Nothing 
would induce me to go under a fig-tree or upon a 
rubbish-heap in the place, lest I might step on the in- 
calculable jeane premier and get a crooked mouth or 
a paralyzed tongue. Apart from her professional rela- 
tions and her professional life Arzie Hanum seemed a 
sincere and friendly person with admirable discretion 
and an understanding heart. Was her kind heart per- 
haps pitying the credulity and ignorance of those who 
came to her? I cannot to this day be sure whether she 
entirely believed in what she was doing or whether she 
was consciously playing a part. 

She had befriended old Hava Hanum and had kept 
her in her house till granny came across her there. She 
must have spoken to granny in this sort of way : 

"You know, Hanum Effendi, she is a real lady and 
could not be a servant. But she is an excellent house- 
keeper ; she cooks well, and you need not tell the world 
that you pay her and buy her clothes and her tobacco. 
She will do well and mother the children tenderly." 

And granny, who could not afford a man cook any 
longer and had married all her old slaves off, needed a 
housekeeper. Very probably she who had seen such 
much grander days was able to understand the pitiable 
condition of another who had come down in the world ; so 
she always treated her with consideration and indul- 
gence. 

"I met your granny," Hava Hanum used to say, 

45 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"when she was looking for a suitable ladylike old lady 
for your father's house. Having refused to take her 
son-in-law in her house, your grandmother wanted him. 
to have proper care. She asked Arzie Hanum's advice 
about this, and she finally took Gully Hanum, who was 
in the same position as I. When a little later I got to 
know your granny and told her all about myself, she 
immediately took me and has been like a sister to me 
ever since. May Allah reward her !" 

She felt real gratitude to granny, but nevertheless it 
was through her evening discourses that I learned of 
granny's weak points. Hava Hanum dined with the 
family, received granny's guests, and always took care to 
sit in the place of honor, actually in a higher place than 
granny herself. But granny ignored all this benev- 
olently and always maintained her charming manners 
toward her. 

Hava Hanum used to tell a vivid story about the first 
night of her marriage which I can never forget. She 
would forget that her audience consisted of two little 
girls and a foolish Circassian slave, and would get into 
a dramatic mood. 

"We used to have our hair plaited and left hanging 
down our backs in my young days," she would begin. 
"I had forty plaits; they were like a fringed shawl 
reaching from one shoulder to the other." (In fact, 
old as she was, she still had two thick plaits, henna- 
colored, wound over her soft head-dress.) "I had such 
beautiful teeth !" ( Her mouth was like an empty black 
hole, but she ate wonderfully, managing the hardest 

46 



WHEN THE. STORY BECOMES MINE 

morsels.) "My cheeks were like two bright peaches." 
(They were loose wrinkled leather now.) "My hus- 
band when led to my bridal chamber saw everything 
through my veil. He asked me three times to lift my 
veil, 4 but of course he opened it himself, offering me the 
face-seeing present. 5 But he had hardly looked at me 
before he called in the woman attendant. 

" 'Undo one of these plaits,' he ordered her. 

" 'O Effendi, her hair has been plaited by the profes- 
sional bath hair-dressers. She only goes once a fort- 
night because it is such a tremendous business each time. 
How can I undo it?' 

" 'Undo it quickly. It cannot be real hair. It is n't 
possible she should have such a quantity. I must be 
sure that it is not false.' 

"Two professional hair-dressers from the bath she 
used to go to were accordingly called in, and they undid 
my plaits while he wetted his handkerchief in his mouth 
and rubbed my cheeks." 

"Why did he do that, Hava Hanum?" I would ask. 

And my sister nudged me angrily for interrupting the 
story. 

"To see if the paint would come off of course, you 
stupid!" 

Well, finally the gentleman made sure that none of 
the beauteous attributes of his wife were false, and he 
shook his head over the possibility of such hair and such 
coloring. 

4 This is the ceremonial performance of old Turkish marriages. 

b A bracelet, necklace, etc., according to the wealth of the bridegroom. 

47 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

For years and years the first night ceremonial of mar- 
riages meant for me a repetition of this particular scene. 
As I had not acquired a f emininistic turn of mind, I did 
not in the least object to any gentleman who tested the 
physical virtues of his wife as if he were examining any 
other property such as slaves or cows. I made a moral 
out of this story, after I had heard other versions of 
first night ceremonies from other ladies, which were 
more or less alike; and I concluded sadly that a bride 
could never cheat a Turkish husband by paint or false 
hair if her hair was thin and her cheeks pale. The eve- 
nings in Hava Hanum's sitting-room were in their way 
as instructive as a French salon before the Revolution. 

Every evening we found her fire-brazier in the middle 
of the room with floor-cushions and her coffee-tray 
round it. With her cigarette in her mouth she would 
make her first cup of coffee, taking pains that it should 
be as frothy as possible, and then she would sip it boil- 
ing hot, her old eyes squeezed up ecstatically before she 
opened the evening's proceedings. After an hour's in- 
terval she would repeat the pleasant operation, some- 
times giving me a little in a tiny saucer, which I licked 
up like a kitten. 

My sister, hardly nine years old, already smoked in 
secret, but here in Hava Hanum's room she enjoyed her 
cigarette openly, bringing the smoke out from her nos- 
trils like a grown-up; and feeling proud of this per- 
formance, she would begin fiercely to order me about, 
to which I so much objected that I would threaten her 

48 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

with, "I will tell granny if you make me fetch your 
things." 

"Wilt thou?" she would blaze. "Come along then. 
It is I who will tell. Dost thou think I am afraid of 
any one? Besides we all know thou art a telltale. 
Thou hast Gipsy milk." 

The accusation of having Gipsy milk and mixed 
milk was a common one in those days. As my mother 
had been too delicate, father had hired wet-nurses for 
me. It was believed that the milk a baby drinks affects 
its character, making it like the woman who nurses it. 
My first milk-mother, as we call a foster-mother, was an 
Albanian, and my sullen moods were put down to her. 
Granny would say, "Now it is the milk of that cross 
Albanian which is working in thee." The next was the 
wife of an onion-seller, a supposed Gipsy. Hence any- 
thing in me different from a conventional Turkish child 
was her fault. For three months fortunately a good 
and beloved person had nursed me, and this gave the 
explanation of certain good traits. Whenever I was 
docile, gentle, or unselfish it was attributed to my 
Nevres Badji, 6 a black slave of my granny's who had 
married in Istamboul. In spite of her black face she 
had a milk-white heart and had reallv nice manners. 
She had a respected position, and granny visited her 
often and allowed her to take us one at a time to her 
house for long visits in Ramazan. This holy month 
was a wonderful time in those days. The quarter where 

6 Badji is the appellation for a negro nurse. 

49 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

it was most brilliantly celebrated was Istamboul, near 
the famous mosques; and Nevres Badji's house was in 
Suleymanie in the very center of this part of the city. 
But of these wonderful doings I have more to tell later, 
and for the moment I must return to our evenings in 
Hava Hanum's room. 

We did not often have these little skirmishes, for most 
of the time she kept our minds absorbed in highly sea- 
soned gossip about the inmates of the house. In some 
subtle way she liked to criticize granny, and mostly as 
regards her weakness for the palace lady. This sub- 
ject was wickedly enjoyed by my sister. 

"I can't understand," Hava Hanum would say, "her 
weakness for palace women. From what I can see the 
creatures have no sense. First she must needs have 
Haire Bey (my grandmother's eldest son) — may 
Allah's grace be on his soul! — marry that consumptive 
palace woman, Trigiil Hanum. Everybody round 
about still remembers how fair and tall and stout he 
was; just like your granny herself, and not a bit 
like your uncle Kemal Bey or Kutchiik Hanum." 
(Kutchuk Hanum means young lady, and every one 
belonging to granny's household always spoke of my 
mother in this way.) Although Trigiil Hanum was tall 
and fair and very beautiful according to Kava Hanum, 
still she was so thin that she had her legs padded with 
cotton-wool, especially when she went out with the lady 
who had such beautiful plump legs, that is, granny. 
After giving birth to a boy, Refet, she had died. "Who 
knows?" Have Hanum would continue with shrewd dis- 

50 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

cernment; "it may be true that consumption is con- 
tagious, for Haire Bey got ill too. But, poor fellow, 
he did not escape from palace ladies on his death-bed. 
He was married to Nevber Hanum, that frightful- 
looking woman who often comes to the house, when he 
was almost dying. It is true that she was a good nurse, 
but each time she left the room he used to say to his 
mother: 'Do marry me to a pretty woman. That 
woman's face makes me miserable.' Very soon after 
he died, and he was soon followed by his lovely boy — 
such a favorite as he was with Biiyiik Effendi" (the 
gentleman of the house, my grandfather) . "But it was 
not in your granny to learn a lesson from this. Now 
she is trying to get Kemal Bey to marry that palace 
lady, who must be at least thirty, while he is only twenty- 
two. You see how stern and sad he looks. I know he 
will never marry her; never!" 

Then the palace lady's Circassian slave would 
chime in: 

"He locks his door whenever he goes into his room, 
and the blinds of his back windows opposite the red brick 
house are always drawn. Such a good Moslem as he is! 
If he were to smile at times you could n't find fault with 
him." 

Then sister would snap out, "He does n't smile be- 
cause he hates your lady." 

"What has my lady done to him?" 

"They want him to marry her, and she wants it too." 

"She does not." 

'She does, you idiotic Circassian! Why does she 

51 



<<( 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

wear those hard, starched, embroidered dresses one after 
the other, that make a crackly noise like a toad, so that 
every cat runs after her ? She tries to swell up and look 
fat, and I know she paints her face white and red." 
(Beauty consisted in those days for the most part in 
plenty of white flesh.) 

"But those are her palace dresses. Are n't they beau- 
tiful? Each one takes three hours to starch and iron." 

"What do you say to her false tail of hair then?" 

"It is not false, Vallahi." 

Hava Hanum would stop them both. "It 's no use 
talking. He would n't marry her even if she were the 
youngest and loveliest woman in the world. I will tell 
you why not; but swear that you won't repeat it." 

After due oaths from my sister and Fikriyar she 
would begin. ( She did not think me important enough 
to make me swear.) 

"The red brick house opposite his room was taken by 
a Circassian family last year, and there was a pretty girl 
there." 

A wonderful incident flashed into my mind as she told 
the story. One morning my uncle Kemal had called 
me into his room. He was very stern-looking and had 
a he-never-smiled-again expression on his face. A 
regular and hard-working secretary in the finance min- 
istry, living as quietly as an old man, he was in reality 
perhaps older than his old father in heart and tempera- 
ment. His leisure time he spent shut up in his room, 
drawing and making all sorts of bright-colored birds out 
of silk and wool, making models of houses, wonderfully 

52 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

designed down to the smallest detail, and doing lovely 
paintings. He had had no education and was obliged 
to hide all this from his father, who would have consid- 
ered it heathenish. But no doubt he needed self- 
expression, as all of us do, and probably he had a talent 
for drawing. My sister's son, who is a painter and de- 
signer, probably has his talents from the same source. 

Anyway, Uncle Kemal enjoyed this childish art, and 
enjoyed too our frank admiration of his work, the only 
admiration and sympathy he could get. 

It was one of these Friday mornings in his room, and 
the blind of the back window was up. The window 
opened upon a row of tall acacias in our back garden, 
behind which one could see bits of the red brick house. 
Between the white flowers and the green leaves I caught 
sight of a dazzling something, like a golden fringe or a 
yellow shawl hanging from one of its windows. From 
this patch of bright gold catching the rays of a blazing 
sun leaned a round, freckled, white face, red lips, and 
the same gold over the head. That splendid shawl I 
discovered to be her hair let loose, for the reason which 
I can only now make out. The face was gazing right 
into the golden glory of the sun, catching its vivid 
splendor. The sheer blinding color and the animal 
magnificence of the picture dazzled me. I have never 
been so strangely and emotionally surprised by any face 
since. 

"Ah!" I gasped. "How beautiful! Look, Uncle 
Kemal!" 

I felt two nervous arms catch me by the shoulders 

53 



MEMOIRS OF HAXIDE EDIB 

and pull me in with a jerk, as he closed the blinds hur- 
riedly. 

"It is rude to look at people like that. Fikriyar must 
have left the blinds up, I am afraid." It was half emo- 
tion and half apology for being found with an open 
blind with that apparition just opposite. 

After that morning I very often stood under the 
acacias and watched the windows of the red brick house 
till my eyes ached. Only once again did I see the beau- 
tiful vision. It was probably another Friday morning, 
and she was once more looking at the sun in the same 
attitude and with the same loose hair. 

Hava Hanum's story completed for me the meaning 
of the golden image and its apparently intentional pose. 

"He called me to his room one evening when the ladies 
were out at the neighbors'," she said. "He was very 
sad, almost crying. 'I am dying for the girl in the 
red brick house,' he said. 'I entreat you to save my life.' 

" 'What can I do, Kemal Bey?' I said. 

" 'You must go and ask her in marriage for me, 
Auntie Hava.' 

" 'And your mother's consent, my son?' 

" 'You are never to tell my mother. She will never 
consent.' 

"He kissed my hands and begged so hard that I prom- 
ised, but after I left his room I began to think it over 
and be afraid of your granny. She might very likely 
dismiss me if she found me out doing anything without 
asking her consent. It might be disastrous for me, I 
knew. So late in the night I went to her room and woke 

54 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

her. She had her heart so set on that palace lady as a 
daughter-in-law that it was impossible to persuade her. 
But after a lot of talk she said to me, 'Don't say any- 
thing to him for a few days, and then pretend that you 
have been to her house and that she is already engaged.' 

"The next few days my conscience kept pricking me. 
He passed the kitchen door with an expressionless face 
and never asked me once about the affair which he 
seemed to have had so at heart only a few days ago. 
Finally, however, I went to the young woman's house 
and inquired about her. There were only Circassians, 
and not one of them could talk decent Turkish, but they 
made me understand that she had been married to the 
swarthy, bearded man whom we used to take for her 
father, and only very recently. 

"That very night I went up to his room and told him 
the news. He took it quietly and was in such a hurry 
to get me out of his room that one might have believed 
he did n't care if one did not know him. Before a fort- 
night had passed your granny called me to her room. 
He had grown so pale and despondent that she was at 
last anxious about him. 'Hava Hanum,' she said, 'go 
and ask that girl's hand for Kemal ; he is simply fading 
away.' Then I told her that I had already been there 
and that it was too late." 

"Well, that young man won't last much longer," a 
German doctor at his sister's funeral said. "He '11 die 
before he 's twenty-five." 

As a matter of fact Uncle Kemal died before he was 
twenty-four. But there is something else to tell before 

55 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I come to that unhappy event which made such a 
turning-point in my childish history, for after it granny 
left the wisteria-covered house and never entered it any 
more. 

We were getting ready for Ramazan, the "unique 
sultan of eleven months," as the watchman used to sing 
of that holy month in his street perambulations. 
Granny was in the kitchen most of the time making 
jams and syrups for Ramazan, an art in which she really 
excelled. Her father had been the chief sweet-maker of 
Sultan Abdul Med j id, the Dweller of Heaven. He 
could make syrups of three colors, white, red, and yel- 
low — so she would tell us — and put them all in the same 
bottle without letting them mix, which sounded little 
short of miraculous to me in those days. I realized as 
she told us such exploits that granny did not care for 
her dead father as much as for her mother ; one realized 
that his position must have been something like my own 
grandfather's in the house, a rich man but inferior in 
station to his wife, herself the daughter of a learned and 
holy personage. 

"My father was not even virtuous like your grand- 
father," she would say. "Why, even before mother 
died he was after all the pretty slaves I used to buy. 
I had so many pretty white slaves, but ErTendi" (her 
own husband) "never looked at one of them out of the 
corner of his eyes." 

She sat on a chair stirring in regular order the three 
boiling and steaming dishes on braziers before her, Hava 
Hanum moving about and grumbling all the time. 

56 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

This was a spring Ramazan, 7 and Hava Hanum was in 
the habit of making all sorts of health-reviving and 
youth-restoring lotions for herself, boiling black cur- 
rants and queer spices together in earthenware dishes. 
As she was disturbed by all this bustle and noise in the 
kitchen, she criticized granny's extravagance, saying 
that the time for such fancies had passed. But granny 
did not heed her. She was determined to have a proper 
llamazan with feasts and good things to eat in plenty. 
Every evening in those thirty days things looked some- 
what sad. Uncle Kemal was losing flesh and color and 
grandfather getting cross and moody, always talking of 
debts and unpleasant happenings. 

Uncle Kemal came into the kitchen on his return from 
the office, watched his mother's jam-making for a time, 
but escaped hastily if grandfather or the palace lady 
appeared on the scene. He did not get on with either, 
though for different reasons. 

The difference between my grandparents' tempers 
and characters I also began to note at this period. She 
was refined, polite to the extreme even with the servants, 
never raising her voice or losing her temper. When- 
ever she was intensely annoyed the strongest language 
she used was, "What mint-honey art thou eating?" 
while in similar cases grandfather's powerful voice would 
roar out in its thickest Kemah accent, "What abomina- 
tion art thou eating?" But he only scolded the servant 
and never interfered in the harem part of the house, and 

7 Turkish months, being lunar, do not constantly recur at any fixed part 
of the solar year. 

57 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

his quarrels with his wife probably took place when the 
rest of the house was sleeping. 

If my grandmother suffered from her stomach she had 
mint-leaves and lemon-peel boiled together and drank 
them ; if she had a headache she used rose-leaves steeped 
in vinegar. He in the first case ate raw onions, break- 
ing them with his fists, for he believed that a knife 
spoiled their juice; in the second case, he applied peeled 
potatoes to his forehead, tying them up in a white cloth. 
There was something varied and strong and very full- 
bodied about everything he told us. His voice was re- 
markable, a real sound of nature, with wonderful color 
and volume, and entirely expressive of the emotion he 
felt at the moment. Somehow I was more attracted by 
his onions and swearing than by my granny's mint- 
honey and perfumed vinegar. 

He must once have loved granny with a wild passion, 
and he evidently loved her still ; while she, although very 
feminine and sweet, did not seem to care for her hus- 
band in the way that most other women did. She was 
the only woman in my childhood who never spoke of 
sexual relations, and she seemed indeed utterly uncon- 
cerned with the other sex. Evidently she was a woman 
without passion, but she could be attached to people to 
such a degree that it often made one pity her ; such de- 
votion and unselfishness as she showed without ever ask- 
ing any return or heeding the ridicule of the world. She 
never kissed or caressed any one so far as I can remem- 
ber, not even the children of the palace lady, for whom 
she had the kind of attachment that is difficult to ac- 

58 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

count for. There is only one caress of hers which I re- 
member. She was on her death-bed, and she called me 
to her with her eyes, patted me with the one hand which 
she could still use a little, and delicately drew in her 
breath, as her lips touched the cheek which I laid against 
hers to be kissed. She did it longingly, tenderly; and 
this single touch of love physically expressed by her has 
left something like an open wound of memory which 
aches sweetly whenever I think of it. She gave herself 
quietly to those she loved, with no demonstration, no 
need of contact. I, who for years had grandfather's 
boiling nature and could have kissed my children con- 
tinually and carried them in a pouch attached to my 
body like a kangaroo, often felt a childish irritation at 
her apparent lack of temperament. 

Yet she undoubtedly influenced me, and I recognize 
that I have inherited from both my grandparents to an 
extraordinary degree. Undoubtedly my writing is 
hers. Her little education and her time had not al- 
lowed her to express herself in public, but her happiest 
moments were those when she could sit down and write 
crude love-stories and very old-fashioned verse. Yet 
all that she wrote was so silly and contrary to her own 
nature that it is evident she was led to write by the 
same internal motive as I was, namely to free herself 
from her dull existence. After the publication of my 
novel "Handan," which undeservedly took the public 
fancy almost to the point of hysteria, she came to me 
with an old copy-book under her arm and asked me 
timidly if she could publish the stuff and get some 

59 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

money out of it. She was badly in debt and harassed 
by her creditors. I read the whole crude story, so silly 
and sentimental and so different from her own humor- 
ous and original talk. When I tried to make her un- 
derstand the impossibility of offering her book to a pub- 
lisher she looked pained. 

"Why," she said, "yours sell more than any one's." 

"It is rather different, granny." 

"Different? Where is the difference? It is all love 
stuff. I have tried to put more love in than you have. 
I have even put in a piano, and the lovers talk through 
the window, which is as far as I could possibly go; I 
could not make them make love to each other in a room 
like yours, even for the sake of my creditors or the pub- 
lishers." 

She had found out "Handan" in a way which no critic 
had. One story was as silly as the other, although for 
different reasons : hers because of its weak sentimental- 
ity, her refined nature not being able to recognize the 
sins of the flesh; while the silliness of "Handan" came 
from the over-strong dose of passion. It reeked with 
passion indeed, and grandfather was surely responsible 
for its physical side. Yet it is those silly types who 
have such long lives in literature. If granny had known 
how to use her hidden desires she would have produced 
a Turkish "Jane Eyre" not one bit less silly or senti- 
mental than the English one. We somehow love to 
create the types farthest away from us, the types which 
our sense of humor or lack of a certain kind of courage 
prevents us personally from ever becoming. 

60 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

Those interviews with granny have left regret and 
shame in my heart. I used to finish by lecturing her on 
her habit of running into debt. How crude and futile 
I must have appeared ! 

"Why make debts, granny?" I used to say. "You 
need not give presents to so many people." 

"Child," she would answer, "shall I not buy the 
Bairam 8 clothes for my old slaves' children? So few 
are alive. I have ceased to do so for my friends' chil- 
dren. I have no personal desire, no more ferajes 9 ac- 
cording to the color of the flowers of the seasons, no 
more feasts. No, I have only three more days to live, 
and I 'm not going to change now, debts or no debts." 

"What would you do if you had your old fortune?" 

"Do the same things over again." 

She would have tears in her eyes in the end and repeat 
that she had only three days more to live, and stick stub- 
bornly but sweetly to her last extravagance. 

On the whole, however, it is clear to me that granny 
reallv did restrict her lavish tendencies somewhat as she 
grew older. The legends of the great doings before I 
was born pointed to something even more splendid than 
anything I was familiar with. As far as I am able to 
judge, her really last extravagant period, something 
like the old days, was the Ramazan I have already re- 
ferred to — the Ramazan after which her last child and 
the old husband, who had sweated himself to death to 
have her wishes realized, grumblingly but loyally, died. 

8 Festival after Ramazan, when every one has new clothes. 

9 An out-of-door mantle, worn formerly by Turkish ladies. 

61 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

When the cellar was looking like the hyacinth-fields, 
all yellow, red, and purple, but with syrups and jams 
in transparent glass jars instead of flowers; and when 
it had a smell as pungent and as varied as the spice- 
market, when the house blazed with dazzlingly white cur- 
tains, white divan-covers, and clean windows, and two 
women were working at two machines making new 
dresses for us children, my Nubian milk-mother Nevres 
Badji appeared on the scene. 

As she kissed granny's dress, and when the mutual 
inquiries after the families' healths were over, she re- 
spectfully intimated that she had come to take me for 
the promised Ramazan visit. Sister's turn would come 
next, but this time it was thought better for her to go 
to another married slave of granny's, a tall and fair 
Circassian, whose forcible nature made her more able 
to control Mahmoure than the mild Nubian. 

So on this memorable day before Ramazan I started 
with Nevres Badji on my way to Istamboul. I don't 
know how we got to the bridge, but the indignity she 
exposed me to after we had crossed it is branded as with 
fire in my memory. She evidently thought the steep 
hill from Merjan to Suleymanie would be too much for 
my childish legs, and so she hired a porter to carry me. 
The shame of it! The insult of it! It is true that I 
was not a stout walker, but it was either a carriage or a 
tram which granny always took when we went on ex- 
peditions of this kind, and the sight of the children of 
the poorer classes carried by porters had always filled 

62 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

me with disdain. From that day they had my full 
sympathy. 

It was a tall Kurdish porter with a dark face and a 
tender heart, as they all usually have. He caressed my 
hair, patted my cheeks, laughed and tried to be friendly, 
tried his best to make me speak. He wanted to stop 
and buy me sweets out of his own poor purse if Nevres 
Badji had allowed such familiarity. Such an unpleas- 
ant penetrating smell attacked my nostrils from his 
body, and his face was so fond and foolish, and I was 
in such an irritated state of mind, feeling the Istamboul 
crowd to be an audience gathered to watch my humilia- 
tion, that I hated him violently at that moment; but I 
have changed my mind since, and I love him and his 
kind. 

The first night at Nevres's house was not pleasant. 
The first night anywhere is unpleasant for a child, but 
it was more so in her house for two special reasons: 
first she made me sleep in her bed, and she had the in- 
curable smell of colored people, so hard for a sensitive 
white nose to bear, however that nose may love the 
owner of the smell. Secondly she put out the light, and 
I was used to sleeping with an oil-lamp, a soft shaky 
light which bathed the furniture, as well as granny's 
face, in a dim and golden haze ; whereas this darkness in 
Nevres Badji's room seemed to thicken so as to solidify 
Nevres Badji into a hard black mass, so hard that one 
could bite it, as Mark Twain says, but never be able to 
chew it without breaking one's teeth. I perspired with 

63 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

anguish and felt that the unmoving time too was solidi- 
fied and fixed like the darkness. 

But morning did come, as it always does. I heard 
her mild voice, mixed with the wonderful bass of a man 
making fond efforts to tone his voice down to the softest 
whisper ; though somehow I felt that really he very much 
wanted me to wake up. It was Ahmet Aga, my milk- 
father, Nevres' second husband, a blond giant from 
Trebizond with a leonine red head, all hair and beard, 
and two delightful blue eyes — a captain of a custom- 
house launch which pursued smugglers at sea. He and 
his launch must have worked havoc in the hearts of the 
law-breakers, yet his heart was perhaps more childish 
than mine. As he had come in late the night before, I 
only found him on the sofa in his gejelik 10 in the morn- 
ing, waiting for me like a little boy for his playmate. 

I would spring from the floor-bed into his lap, and 
locking me in his arms, he would kiss my hair and call 
out playfully, "Milk-mother, bring our coffee and milk." 
Then with the coffee-cup on one of his knees and me on 
the other, we would drink our coffee and milk together. 
He began the morning with a joyful song. Although I 
have a poor ear and memory for music, I still hear the 
songs — both words and music — that I heard in my child- 
hood, as sung by the people dead so long ago: 

"My girl, my girl, my henna-painted lamb, a hodja 
wants to marry thee; what answer shall I say?" 

"Mother, O mother, he '11 make me wind his turban. 

io A long padded coat worn as a sort of negligee, whether in the bed- 
room, house, or even mosque. 

64 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

Oh, tell the hodja, mother, thy daughter says him nay I" 

"My girl, my girl, my henna-painted lamb, a soldier 
wants to marry thee; what answer shall I say?" 

"The soldier has a cruel sword which he may use to 
kill me. Oh, tell the hodja, mother, thy daughter says 
him nay." 

Thus the song went on, with proposals for marriage 
with every kind of profession, but the girl refuses till 
it comes to a scribe, whereupon she accepts with joy. 
Scribes were the favored husbands and lovers in those 
days, at least so said a multitude of people's delightful 
songs. Ahmet Aga always wanted me to sing the an- 
swers, and he sang them with me, so we must have 
sounded rather queer. 

Meanwhile Nevres Badji used to move about the 
room, softly tidying everything with her eternal and 
internal smile which seemed to make no facial disturb- 
ance on her broad, bland, black face. 

"Come, milk-mother, sing thou too," he used to roar, 
and she hummed the same thing in her sweetly humorous 
tones : 

"I look at the meat in the butcher's shop and the 
melons on the stall, but never dost thou give me one 
thing to eat at all. Nor art thou fair and handsome, 
hast no good looks at all. A fine strong husband I 
could love, but thou art dwarfish small. So if I go and 
leave thee, make love to some poor black, and thou canst 
keep my nikah; I will not ask it back." (The nikah is 
the sum the husband has to pay the wife in case of 
divorce. If she demands the divorce, she usually gives 

65 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

up her right to the money in order to persuade him.) 

They would wink at each other and enjoy some fun 
the meaning of which I did not catch, but I have never 
seen a happier and more loving couple since. They 
had a perfect mutual understanding and mutual con- 
tentment. 

The second night in Nevres Badji's room was pleas- 
anter. The young moon which started the Ramazan 
rejoicings had been seen by some one late in the night. 
Just as I was feeling immured by the rocky hardness 
of the lightless room, soft lights from outside lit up the 
white curtains as boys and men passed along the street 
with lanterns in their hands, singing and beating a tre- 
mendous drum. This made milk-mother get up, make 
a light, and begin to bustle round, getting ready for the 
first sahur (the night meal which is eaten after midnight 
in Ramazan in preparation for the next day's fasting), 
which every one would begin the next day. 

The next morning when I woke, milk-father was snor- 
ing in his bed. Only milk-mother was up, probably to 
prepare my morning milk; and I had to have a lonely 
meal listening to the extraordinary silence which seemed 
to fill the house as well as the streets. It was only at 
three in the afternoon that the world began to wake up 
and we got ready for the visit to the mosques. 

This part of Istamboul is a vast burnt waste, islanded 
with patches of charming dark wooden houses with 
shadowy eaves. Between these we passed, she holding 
my hand fast, that I might not get lost. The streets 

66 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

were full. Groups of women, in charshafs of many 
colors, moved along, the young with thick veils but the 
old with their faces uncovered, all with rosaries in hand 
and tight lips occasionally whispering a prayer. Every 
one carried a rosary, beautifully and fancifully colored, 
each mosque having had a fair where one could buy 
rosaries, pipes, women's trinkets, dried fruit, and all 
imaginable delicacies, especially spices. Men from all 
over the empire stood there, picturesquely dressed, cry- 
ing their goods in musical tones and in their own lan- 
guages. Arabs predominated in numbers, their stalls 
full of henna and kohl in pretty red leather tubes, which 
they pretended to have brought from Mecca, and which 
made their goods considered almost like holy relics and 
therefore to be much sought after. Besides holy tradi- 
tion said that it was pleasing to Mohammed for women 
to dye their eyes with kohl and their fingers with henna. 
Finally Suleymanie mosque was reached, where we 
were to hear preaching or mukabele.* 1 The sight of 
that gray and imposing group of buildings made me 
almost drunk with pleasure. I seemed to be composed 
of myriads of open cells through which penetrated this 
gray mass rising in the blue air. The feeling inside me 
was of a fluid motion, flooding and moving in a divine 
harmony through my little body. I have often thought 
since that a child's perception of beauty is superior to 

11 Every family had a hafiz, a man who knows the Koran by heart and 
the musical rules of the chanting. He has to chant the Koran for the soul 
of the dead. One heard them in every mosque, some being famous and 
more sought after for beauty of voice or rendering. 

67 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

that of a grown-up. It is not a beauty of words. It is 
color; it is sound, it is harmony and line all combined 
yet producing a single sensation. 

A moment's pause at the door to give one's shoes to 
the old man, 12 the lifting of the corner of the huge worn 
curtain, beside which one looked like a tiny rabbit, and 
then the entrance! 

A gray endless upward sweep of dome, holding a hazy 
gray atmosphere in which hung the constellation of the 
tiny oil lamplets. 13 The light through the colored win- 
dows must have added a rosy hue, but the warmth of 
its pinkish shade was rather felt than seen. It was 
diffused in that gray air and added a faint tone which 
prevented the gray from being sad and somber, as it 
usually is on sea and sky. The magic of genius has 
given the mosque of Suleymanie the proportions which 
make one fancy it the largest building one has ever seen, 
so imposing is the sense of space and grandeur reduced 
to its simplest expression. Near the mihrab, 1 * under 
different groups of lamps, sat various men in white tur- 
bans and loose black gowns, swinging their bodies in 
rhythm with the lilt of their minor chants. Everything 
seemed part of the simple majestic gray space with its 

12 No one may pollute a mosque by walking in it with shoes dirty with 
the impurities of the street. Huge padded curtains hang over the mosque 
doorways. 

is Until recently all mosques were lit by tiny lamps, each lamp consist- 
ing of a small, cup-like glass filled with oil on which floated a wick. From 
the ceiling of the dome an iron framework was hung by heavy chains, and 
in this framework the lamps were placed; but so slight and delicate was 
it that when the lamps were lit the framework was unseen and the im- 
pression was of stars hanging in the sky of the dome. 

i* The part of a mosque which shows the direction of Mecca. 

68 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

invisible rosy hue and its invisible pulsations. In the 
pulpits sat men in the same dresses as the chanters. 
They Were preaching and waving their arms in more 
passionate rhythm than the chanting ones, but every- 
thing became toned down and swallowed up in the con- 
quering silence, in the invisible pulsation of the air. 
Nevres sat down where she could listen to some man who 
was chanting for the souls of the dead. Some of these 
chanters were old and some young, but all had the trans- 
parent amber pallor and the hectic eyes of those who 
are fasting. In no time I felt caught up into the gen- 
eral sway and began moving my body unconsciously to 
and fro in the same harmonious manner as the rest. I 
became a part of the whole and could not have moved 
otherwise than under the dominating pulsations of the 
place. No false note, no discordant gesture was pos- 
sible. 

There were more groups of women than men around 
the preachers, and as Badji always went to listen to the 
chanters, I quietly sneaked away and knelt before a 
preacher's pulpit. A pale man with eyes of liquid flame 
was speaking, condemning every human being to eternal 
fire, since his standard for a good Moslem was such that 
it was quite impracticable to get to heaven. As the 
natural dwelling-place of Moslem mortals therefore, he 
described all the quarters of hell — the place where peo- 
ple are burned, the place where they are tortured in all 
sorts of ways. It seemed to be a case of either endless 
suffering in this world or the next; that at any rate is 
the effect which has stayed in my memory as being what 

69 



MEMOIES OF HALIDE EDIB 

he wanted to impress upon us. His arms in their long 
loose black sleeves had prophetic gestures ; his voice had 
a troubling tone, something so burning, so colored lend- 
ing itself to the wonderful rhythm and beauty of the 
verses of the Koran which he read and interpreted. It 
was really sublime nonsense, rendered in most artistic 
gestures and tones. I sneaked back to Badji and hid 
my face in her ample charshaf. I was frightened and 
troubled for the first time with a vague sense of re- 
ligion. 

In the evening the great guns were fired, signaling the 
time to break the fast, and we gathered about the round 
low tray on which jams, olives, cheese, spiced meats, 
eggs, and all sorts of highly flavored pastries were ar- 
ranged. Milk-father got back his good humor as he 
ate. In Ramazan the Moslem spoils his stomach as one 
spoils a beloved child, even the poorest allowing himself 
variety and plenty. 

Our evening prayers received only scant observance 
that night, for we had to hurry out for the Ramazan 
prayer, milk-father leading with a lantern in his hand; 
but turning back he soon lifted me on his shoulders, and 
swinging the lantern in his other hand, he walked by 
Badji's side, talking and joking. The streets were 
lighted by hundreds of these moving lanterns. Men, 
women, and children flickered forward like a swarm of 
fireflies, drums were sounding in the distance, and from 
every minaret the muezzin was calling, "Allah Ekber, 
Allah Ekber. . . ." 15 The grand harmony came nearer 

is God is great — the beginning of the usual call to prayer. 

70 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

or grew more distant as we moved on. Then suddenly 
above the dimly lighted houses, above the mass of moving 
lights, a circle of light came into view high over our 
heads in the dark blue air. The tiny balcony of some 
dim minaret was now traced out as though by magic in 
a slender illusive ring of light. These light circles mul- 
tiplied into hundreds, standing out in the bluish heaven, 
softly lighting up the picturesque masses of the wooden 
buildings below them, or the melting lines of the domes. 
And now in the same air, hanging in fact between 
minaret and minaret, other beautiful lines of light as if 
by a miracle interlaced and wove themselves into 
wonderful writing: "Welcome, O Ramazan!" Bel- 
shazzar's surprise when he saw the invisible fingers writ- 
ing on the wall differed from mine only in quality. I 
was on the shoulders of the tallest man in the crowd. 
Below me the lights of the lanterns swung in the dark 
depths of the long winding mysterious streets. Above 
me light circles and gigantic letterings, also in light, 
hung in the blue void, while the illusive tracery of 
the minarets, the soft droop of the domes, appeared 
dimly or disappeared in the thickness of blue distance 
as we walked on. And so once more we reached Sul- 
eymanie and plunged into the great crowd gathered in- 
side. 

The gray space was now a golden haze. Around the 
hundreds of tremulous oil lights a vast golden at- 
mosphere thickened, and under it thousands of men sat 
on their knees in orderly rows ; not one single space was 
empty, and this compact mass, this human carpet 

71 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 



presented a design made up of all costumes, ages, and 
ranks. The women prayed in the gallery above. 

Nevres Badji left me to watch it all while she found 
herself a proper place in a regular row. Suddenly came 
the unique grand call — "Sal-li-a-la Mohammed!" 16 and 
then the rise of the entire human mass. The imam stood 
in front of the mihrab, his back to the people, and opened 
the prayer. It is wonderful to pray led by an imam. 
He chants aloud the verses you usually repeat in lonely 
prayer. You bow, you kneel, your forehead touches 
the floor. Each movement is a vast and complicated 
rhythm, the rising and falling controlled by the invisible 
voices of the several muezzins. There is a beautiful 
minor chant. The refrain is taken up again and again 
by the muezzins. There is a continual rhythmic thud 
and rustle as the thousands fall and rise. The rest be- 
longs to the eternal silence. 

It seems as if we should go on rising and falling, ris- 
ing and falling for the rest of our lives, till all of a sud- 
den people remain longer on their knees than before, 
and a chorus of, "Amin, amin," sets the pulsing air into 
an almost frantic rhythm. 

Then we leave the mosque. 

I have often prayed in most of the mosques of Istam- 
boul, but I have never entered Suleymanie again, al- 
though I have walked many times around it and visited 
the museum which used to be its soup-kitchen in earlier 
times. I did not want to alter the memory of the divine 
and esthetic emotion which I had had in the days of 

i« Pray in the name of Mohammed. 

72 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

my early childhood, and I knew it was not possible to 
repeat it without destroying the intensity of that first 
impression. 

Whatever my feelings are toward some parts of the 
Ottoman past, I am grateful to its conception of beauty 
as expressed by Sinan 17 in that wonderful dome. The 
gorgeous coloring of the Byzantines, the magic tracery, 
and the delicate, lace-like ornament of the Arab in- 
fluenced him in many ways, but he surely brought that 
flawless beauty of line and that sober majesty in his 
Turkish heart from its original home in the wild steppes. 
There is a manliness and lack of self -consciousness here 
which I have never seen in any other temple, yet the 
work is far from being primitive or elemental. It com- 
bines genius and science, as well as the personal sense 
of holy beauty which is characteristic of the Ottoman, 
and it can hold its own with the architectural triumphs 
of any age. 

Before Ramazan was over I went home to granny's. 
My sister, whom I called Mahmoure Abla, 18 met me at 
the door with a red and excited face. She was very glad 
to see me back, evidently, and full of news. First she 
gave me some pretty shells carefully tied up in her 
pocket-handkerchief. She had been to the seaside in 
Scutari and had gathered these for me. In generosity 

J7 Sinan is the celebrated Turkish architect who lived in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries and built endless mosques, bridges, tiirbahs, foun- 
tains, and kitchens for the poor. 

i*Abla is the title given to an elder sister by her younger. Mahmourd 
is her personal name. 

73 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 



and open-handedness she was unsurpassed. I immedi- 
ately felt very much disappointed at not having been 
to the seaside myself. I forgot my own beautiful nights 
and remembered only the unpleasant time when I had 
been carried by a porter. I was almost ready to cry, 
but I was developing a conscious pride which did not 
allow my old outbursts of temper. And sister never 
noticed people's moods, while I was like a thermometer 
for feeling people's inside discomforts. 

"We are having great if tars" (Ramazan invitations) , 
she said; "grandfather in the selamlik and Granny in 
the harem. We have got a new man cook and an Ar- 
menian woman-servant for Ramazan, and Hava Hanum 
is all dressed in her grandest things and is receiving the 
visitors. To-night we are going to have a children's 
party. Thy Nut-rat is coming. All the girls in the 
quarter are coming. Auntie 19 Vasfie is bringing that 
newly circumcised boy of hers, that monkey-faced child 
who sits at the window in a girl's blue dress and the cap 
covered with a nazar takimiJ" 

This was news indeed, and I began to forget my re- 
sentment in my interest in the preparations for the eve- 
ning. The grown-ups were having their tables laid up- 
stairs in the saloons, and we were to dine in the ordinary 
dining-room and use Hava Hanum's room afterward as 
our parlor. Mahmoure Abla feverishly controlled all 
the table arrangements, counted the tiny if tar dishes to 

19 Every older woman was called "auntie" by little children. Boys who 
had just recently been circumcised wore blue dresses and caps, and 
dangling down from their caps they had an ornament, nazar takimi, made 
of blue beads and pearls to keep off the evil eye. 

74 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

see if the same choice of jam, cheese, and other delicacies 
was being given to us as to the grown-ups. She 
wrangled with the slave-girl Fikriyar because the green 
olives were forgotten. She got the syrup-glasses ar- 
ranged just as she wished on the tray, while I walked at 
her heels bathed in the glory of her power and impor- 
tance. 

Shayeste's family arrived first — her one-eyed sister 
looking as cross as ever — and the other invited neigh- 
bors one after another, followed with their offspring. 
Our sitting-room was filled with young visitors all sit- 
ting uneasily in a row on the divan and looking at their 
toes as the grown-ups do, when Auntie Vasfie arrived 
with the boy in blue and his ornamented cap. 

"You must make Riffat play the servant in your 
games," she said. "He will be a good slave." 

The bov Riffat had a dark, sickly face and was evi- 
dently perfectly ready to play the slave, so eagerly 
and meekly did he fall in with all our plans. Up to 
now I had hated boys and feared them so much that this 
timid and lowly specimen was a surprise to me. Before 
long I found out that he was suffering from shyness of 
the others almost more than myself, although he was 
older, and I felt obliged to befriend him. 

The meal was a failure. I felt out of place and fool- 
ishly different from the rest of the little company, just 
as in later years I have often felt at grown-up dinner- 
parties. Mahmoure Abla was all eyes, darting fire and 
reproaches at Fikriyar, who was waiting on us. For- 
tunately there was Bedrie, a slender and beautiful girl 

75 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

of twelve, the oldest child who in the assembly was al- 
ready wearing the veil out of doors and got married 
very soon afterward. 

After dinner we all sat together on the same divan and 
pretended to drink coffee out of dolls' cups. Then we 
sat down in a circle on the floor and played "The young 
mouse runs from the holes." 20 Finally Mahmoure 
Abla said, "This is idiotic; let us play weddings!" 

Every one got excited, and every one suggested who 
should be the bride and bridegroom, while each was hop- 
ing to be one or the other of these happy persons. No 
one thought of the little boy. "Thou shalt be the 
dowry-slave," 21 they said finally, and he was content. 

Binnaz was the bride and Bedrie the bridegroom. 
She pinned her skirts and made them look like a man's 
pantaloons. She put some black soot from a candle on 
her lips to make a mustache, and Mahmoure Abla 
fetched the man-servant's fez from the selamlik. Bin- 
naz simply covered her face with the white muslin veil 
which Hava Hanum used to put on her head at her 
prayers. Now the game of weddings always starts 
when the pair passes among the assembled visitors arm 
in arm and every one calls out "Mashallah!" Then 
they enter the bridal chamber and sit on the sofa. 

"What is your name?" asks the groom. 

No answer. 

"Please open your veil." 

20 The Turkish form of "Hunt the slipper." 

21 Well-to-do families give a slave who is called the dowry to the bride 
before she is married. 

76 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

This is repeated three times, and no answer is given. 
But just when we are expecting the bride to comply, as 
she properly should at this point and open her veil 
and complete the play she is acting, Binnaz lifts up her 
voice and wails. The face-seeing present Bedrie offers 
is a match-box with a "pretend" ring inside. But the 
match-box is in vain. The wail develops into a regular 
and very unpleasantly loud howl. 

"You are making fun of me; I won't be the bride; I 
won't be the bride," she cries. None of us at the time 
could understand the reason of the outburst, but I be- 
lieve that it was her sensibility as to her blind eye, per- 
haps even a sudden conviction that this would never 
happen to her in reality, which had roused her against 
every one. Our surprise was complete. Mahmoure 
Abla began shaking her. The others pulled her off the 
sofa and begged her to stop crying lest the grown-ups 
should think we were quarreling. It was no use. 
Hava Hanum came down and scolded her, while Mah- 
moure Abla rushed out. Her return with Fikriyar 
carrying a tray full of ruby-colored pomegranate- 
syrups restored order. 

Our evening was not exactly a success, but we had 
gained a new playmate in Riffat. After this he often 
joined us with Shayeste in the marble hall. He was as 
humble as he could be, and queerly enough I tolerated 
him best after Shayeste. Once indeed I told Hava 
Hanum that I wanted to play the wedding game with 
him, and at that stage I had no idea that there was any 
difference between the game and the reality, both alike 

77 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

being completely unreal. But when Riff at later 
changed his girl's blue dress for a primary military 
school uniform, I classified him with the wild species of 
humanity, viz., boys, and dropped him immediately. 

But to return to our famous Ramazan of that year. 
As Bairam approached, the sewing-machines went on 
working even more busily, and granny went out every 
day buying presents. The handkerchiefs, the shirts, 
and the children's dresses were piling up on granny's 
divan. Her married slaves came with their children, 
stayed a few nights, got their presents, and went away 
again. 

The night before Ramazan ends there is such a sleep- 
less feverish sense of waiting and preparation that the 
day never actually fulfils one's expectations. We be- 
gan the day by kissing the hands of all the old people in 
the house. Grandfather was the first person. At 
Bairam he was especially sad and restless. He had 
never got over the death of his beautiful grandson 
Reffet. He wandered round or shut himself up in his 
room, looking like an old wounded lion in a cage. 

But he smiled sweetly at us when we entered and was 
unusually tender and caressing. He made us sit on his 
funny corner divan, and roasted bread on the little 
mangal 22 which he always kept in his room for his coffee, 
and he offered us delicious cheese that had just arrived 
from Kemah, very salty and creamy. He gave us 
dried cream and mulberries too, both Kemah products. 
Then he presented us new handkerchiefs and kissed me 

22 A mangal is a brazier. 

78 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

several times. "Come every day, Halik," he said. 
"Thou shalt have some more cheese, and I will buy thee 
red apples." I found out afterward that his calling 
me Halik was due to the boy Reffet's having always 
called me by this funny name, a thing of which, however, 
I had no remembrance. 

Auntie Teize, as we called the palace lady, was at her 
best also. She offered us beautiful loukoum and gave 
us silk handkerchiefs. But what makes me remember 
the day especially was her bringing out picture-books to 
show us during our visit to her apartments. It was a 
strange sensation to me, those signs and the pictures out 
of which a new world suddenly spoke. The book was 
a collection of African travels, perhaps translated; I do 
not know. But she actually sat on the floor and read 
to us the descriptions and explained the pictures. She 
had not been a teacher in the palace for nothing, for, as 
granny said, she could make a stone understand things. 
From that moment I gradually began to find the palace 
lady very attractive. An uncontrollable desire to learn 
to read began with the African travels that day. 

Mahmoure Abla told me that learning from Djavide 
Hanum was not a thing for cowardly little girls who 
feared Halim Kadin. This was very insulting. Halim 
Kadin was an imaginary woman whom they had in- 
vented to frighten me. She was supposed to live some- 
where in the old stables, or in the large wood and char- 
coal store-places and cisterns round our house which 
were no longer used. As Hava Hanum believed that 
each child had to be in awe of something in order to be 

79 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

properly handled, she had created this image for my 
benefit. Mahmoure Abla sometimes hid in one of the 
numerous cupboards and produced unearthly sounds 
which were meant to be Halim Kadin calling, and these 
sounds always made a creepy feeling down my back. 

"I won't be afraid of her any more," I said bravely. 

"But thou canst not bear beating, canst thou?" 

This made me serious. 

"You must be able to bear beating," she went on. 
"No child can learn without being beaten. Beating has 
come out of heaven." 

This was Djavide Hanum's pedagogics it seemed, and 
father's was quite a different system. He only scolded 
me twice in all my life and took every measure to pre- 
vent me from being harshly treated, even when it was a 
matter of education later on. 

Anyhow shortly after this my sister tried to apply 
Djavide Hanum's system to me, and I began learning 
with her in secret. But it did not last for more than 
two lessons, I believe, for I did not care to learn a la 
Djavide Hanum. 

But I have wandered again. 

Father naturally made a point of arriving at granny's 
house as early as he could. He had, however, first been 
obliged to attend the Bairam ceremony at the Dolma 
Bagtche Palace, and from there he came straight on to 
pay his respects to his old parents-in-law. He was still 
wearing his court-dress — a uniform of a long, tight, 
black coat, buttoned to the throat, embroidered in real 
gold down the front, a large decoration on his breast, his 

80 




c 
= 

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H 



o 

a 

'A 






WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

ornamental sword, kid gloves, and shiny shoes. He 
cannot have been more than twenty-eight at this time, 
having married my mother very young. To me as I re- 
member him that day, his slender figure, delicate face, 
with very fair mustache, his wonderful eyes, his well 
shaped hands, he seemed a very handsome figure. He 
gave us shining money — all new coins — out of a red silk 
purse. 

After this we children went to kiss the hands of the 
old ladies in our quarter. Our own house was mean- 
time like a beehive; men came into our selamik for 
their Bairam visits to grandfather, while all the young 
were received by granny also, and each would have as 
a present, after they had kissed her hands, a shirt, a 
handkerchief, or a tie. Mahmoure Abla did not like 
these hand-kissing visits. "It is like begging for hand- 
kerchiefs," she said. 

But we went nevertheless, were given sweets, and re- 
ceived our handkerchiefs, with the same remark every- 
where, "You can wipe your mouths with them, dears." 

That afternoon father's groom came to fetch me to go 
with him to Yildiz; and perched on the tall bay horse, 
sitting in front of the man, I started for the palace. I 
remember the conversation we had, perhaps on account 
of the queer coincidence which followed it that very day. 

"You give me your hair, little girl," he said face- 
tiously. My unfortunate hair drew out teasing re- 
marks from every one because of the funny way it was 
done. After some bad illness, probably the one at the 
Kyria Ellenie school, my hair was cut short; and as it 

81 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

grew very fast and granny hated untidy hair (she her- 
self always wore her hair short ) , she had my hair done 
in four plaits, one on the top of my head, one on each 
temple and one at the back, the four being all tied to- 
gether on the top of my head with some bright-colored 
ribbon. The ends escaped and stood out like a squir- 
rel's tail, and the unusual shades of fair and dark gave 
it a strange appearance. The plaits were so tight that 
they screwed up my temples and eyebrows, and I had 
perpetual pains in my head on that account, but I never 
complained. I was naturally ready to give up my hair 
to any one. When the man saw that he could not tease 
me about my hair, he called me a little slave-girl and 
swore that he had seen me bought from a slave-dealer 
and actually knew the price that was paid for me, al- 
though he kept a mysterious silence on this point. 

This was the identical nonsense with which every 
little girl was teased in Turkey in those days. Yet 
every little girl minded it terribly, and some stupid ones, 
like me, almost believed it. So by the time we were 
climbing the final Royal Road at a gallop up to the 
palace door I had deep misgivings. Passing through 
the portals, I saw a man carrying a white cockatoo in 
his hand. "Happy Bairam," screeched a voice, inhu- 
man and startling, but I had never heard a bird talk 
before. 

The groom whispered: "That bird knows about you 
too. Shall I ask it?" I was not anxious for more in- 
formation and I hurried into father's bureau. It was 
in one of the pavilions on the left of the road with a 

82 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

few steps leading up to it. He was not in. He hardly 
ever had any holidays. On ceremonial days he was 
busiest, for all the royal presents and decorations passed 
through his hands. The head servant told me to wait 
in father's room; he had been called away as usual by 
the first chamberlain. But the servant promised to 
bring me sweets if I would be a good girl. 

There in father's room, in front of his writing-table 
and sitting in his chair, was a eunuch. As these people 
were familiar sights in the palace, the circumstance was 
not in itself strange, but this eunuch was different from 
tbe stately black men I was accustomed to. His face 
was a light milk and coffee color; his features were more 
regular than my own; his eyes were big and of the 
troubling kind — sad, humorous, and very beautiful. 
His large handsome head was set on a crippled body 
with an enormous hunch on the back. I began walking 
round him in order to get a good view of the hunch, and 
then I stood and stared at him fascinated. I believe 
there was the curve of a smile, in fact there were many 
smile-curves, in the corners of his mouth, but he kept 
them under control and returned my gaze seriously for a 
time. Then he sighed and rolled his eyes, his face tak- 
ing on an extraordinary look of real suffering. 

"Ah, I am waiting for my father!" 

"Who is thy father?" 

"My father?" He looked astonished. "My father 
is Edib Bey, of course." 

"He is my father." 

"Well, I 'm talking of Edib Bey too, but he is my 

83 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

father. At least he was. I was his son, his first-born, 
till thou, a black foundling from the streets, came and 
bewitched both of us. I became crippled and black and 
thou white and took my place, and I was turned into the 
street." 

His face crumpled into lines ; his voice sobbed, his eyes 
became full of tears, yet watched me furtively. I have 
never been torn between so many different sensations: 
belief in my wicked witchery, fear lest I might be found 
out and sent into the streets and become a negress once 
more, pity for his miserable fate, and hatred toward him 
for making me feel all this. I have seen many great 
actors on the stage since, but, it seems to me even now, 
never one with such sincere and artistic power of ren- 
dering emotion. I was trying hard to swallow the pain- 
ful lump in my throat to hold back the tears that already 
stood on my lashes. I needed the strength of a dozen 
buffaloes to keep my mouth from trembling in ever so 
many directions. 

He crawled toward me, gazed at me, and tried to kiss 
me. 

"Thou dear black witch," he said as father entered 
the room. 

"What tricks are you playing on my little girl, Aga ?" 
he said. 

"Telling her not to steal the fathers of such poor or- 
phans as I," he answered. 

Father laughed and took me on his knees, but did not 
trouble to explain what seemed a tragic dilemma to me. 

84 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

I carried a misgiving in my heart about this until its 
absurdity gradually made itself apparent to me. 

That Bairam night I had my first experience of a 
theater. There was a French troupe in Pera, and 
father, with the two inseparable friends of his, Sirry and 
Hakky Beys, had taken a box. I loved Sirry Bey best 
of all father's friends. Besides his many services to the 
country and his undeviating honesty, which had stood 
the test of Hamid's corruption, he was gentle and highly 
cultivated. He used to translate Shakspere and read 
his translations aloud. I did not understand the mean- 
ing then, but I liked the sound. 'The Merchant of 
Venice" and "A Comedy of Errors" were his two first 
published translations. 

During the play Sirry Bey took the greatest pains to 
make me understand what was happening, but it was 
useless. I was wholly fascinated by the lady in blue 
with wonderful coloring, who sang, her mouth taking 
impossible shapes and giving out high and unbelievable 
sounds. I must have gone to sleep watching her mouth, 
for I found myself in father's bed the next morning. 
Abla was in her bed, and they were whispering over me. 
I called my stepmother Abla, for I could not call her 
mother, as father thought that it would hurt granny. 

One night about this time I begged granny to allow 
me to learn to read. "Thy father does not want thee 
to learn before thou art seven," she said. "It is stupid 
of him. I started at three, and in mv davs children of 
seven knew the Koran by heart." In spite of this I 

85 



MEMOIKS OF HALIDE EDIB 

kept bothering her and even speaking to father about it, 
so that he at last consented, although I was not fully 
six yet. Thereupon the house began to get ready to 
celebrate my bashlanmak, my entrance into learning. 

Little children in Turkey started to school in those 
days with a pretty ceremony. A little girl was dressed 
in silk covered with jewels, and a gold-embroidered bag, 
with an alphabet inside, was hung round her neck with a 
gold-tasseled cord. She sat in an open carriage, with 
a damask silk cushion at her feet. All the little pupils 
of the school walked in procession after the carriage, 
forming two long tails on either side. The older ones 
were the hymn-singers, usually singing the very popular 
hymn, "The rivers of paradise, as they flow, murmur, 
Allah, Allah.' The angels in paradise, as they walk, 
sing, 'Allah, Allah.' " At the end of each stanza hun- 
dreds of little throats shouted, " Amin, aminl" 

They went through several streets in this way, draw- 
ing into the procession the children and waifs from the 
quarters they passed through until they reached the 
school. In the school the new pupil knelt on her damask 
cushion before a square table, facing the teacher. Kiss- 
ing the hand of the instructor, she repeated the alphabet 
after her. Some sweet dish would then be served to the 
children, and each child received a bright new coin given 
by the parents of the pupil to be. After this sort of 
consecration, the little one went every day to school, 
fetched by the half a, an attendant who went from one 
house to another collecting the children from the dif- 
ferent houses. 

86 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

The ceremony was as important as a wedding, and 
fond parents spent large sums in the effort to have a 
grander ceremony than their neighbors. Each family 
who could afford a costly bashlanmak would arrange 
for a few poor children of the quarter to share the cere- 
mony and would thenceforward pay their schooling, as 
well as that of their own child. The old systematic 
philanthropy of the Ottomans, although fast disappear- 
ing, was not entirely dead yet. 

The sight of a children's procession with the grand 
carriage had always caused me certain excitement, 
mixed, however, with a longing to be the little girl in the 
carriage and a fear of being the center of attraction in 
public. 

Father had arranged that I was not to begin by going 
to school, but a hodja was to come and give me lessons 
at home. The bashlanmak too in mv case was not to be 
the usual one. There was to be a big dinner at home 
for the men, and the ceremony was to take place at 
home after the night prayers. 

Grannv had her own wav about mv dress for once. 

• w m 

She could not bear to have me begin my reading of the 
holy Koran in a blue serge dress. I remember well the 
champagne-colored silk frock with lovely patterns on 
it, and the soft silk veil of the same color, that she got 
for me instead. 

A large number of guests arrived, both from our 
own neighborhood and also from the palace. 

Some one held a mirror in front of me after I was 
dressed, and I looked strange with the veil over my 

87 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

hair and bedecked with the really beautiful jewels of 
the palace lady. Fikriyar was moved to tears. "Thou 
shalt wear a bride's dress and I will hold thy train one 
day," she said. She was wishing me the one possible 
felicity for a Turkish woman. 

Then hand in hand with Mahmoure Abla, who was 
unusually subdued, I walked to the large hall where 
every one had assembled for the ceremony. A young 
boy chanted the Koran while our hodja sat by the low 
table swaying himself to its rhythm. Mahmoure Abla 
had already been to school, and so she only knelt, while 
I had at the same time to kneel and to repeat the first 
letters of the alphabet, frightened to death at the sound 
of my own voice. As I rose I forgot to kiss the hand 
of the hodja, but some tender voice whispered behind 
me, "Kiss the hodja's hand." All ceremonies in Tur- 
key, even marriages and Bairams, tend to take on a sad 
and solemn tone; always the women with wet eyes and 
the men in softened silent mood. What makes other 
people rejoice makes the Turk sad. 

My lessons took place in the same room in the selam- 
lik, before the same table and in the same kneeling atti- 
tude as at the bashlanmak. My teacher, who was a reg- 
ular schoolmaster and busy with his own school in the 
daytime, could only come to our house in the evenings. 
Two candles therefore were placed on the table and 
burned under green shades, while I struggled with the 
Arabic writing of the holy book. 23 Of course it was 

23 All Moslem children used to learn to read from the Arabic Koran, of 
which not a word would naturally be understood by a Turkish child. In 

88 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

difficult to go on without understanding the meaning of 
the words one read, but the musical sound of it all was 
some compensation. 

Our hodja and his wife were recent immigrants from 
Macedonia and had built a tiny house behind our own. 
She taught little girls at home, while his school was in 
one of the poor quarters of Beshiktash. 

Mahmoure Abla, who had been under the severe dis- 
cipline of Djavide Hanum, soon took advantage of a 
state of affairs where there was no rod and no ear- 
pulling. She joined my lessons, but she never studied, 
she never repeated any lesson unless she wanted to, and 
when she found out that our teacher's threat, in his 
funny Macedonian accent, "Mimure, thou shalt eat it" 
("thou shalt eat the rod," or, "I will whip thee"), 
"Mimure, I will pull thy ears," were only a form of 
speech, she went to much greater lengths than idleness 
and noise. She actually played, and not only with her 
doll but with a ball as well. 

As often as I could now, I went up-stairs to Te'ize's 
apartment when Fikriyar was dusting her books. I 
would beg her to take out the book of African travels 
and open it for me on the floor. It was too large for 
me to handle, and when she had laid it down I stretched 
myself on the floor and tried to decipher it. In this 
position, resting on my elbows, I would struggle on 
till my eyes ached. It was so different from the Koran, 
and the words, even when I could make them out, were 

the higher classes they would go on applying their alphabetic knowledge to 
the reading of their own language. 

89 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

such that I did not understand. 24 Meanwhile, Fikriyar 
was very happy to have some one to talk to. She 
started each time from the very beginning, telling me 
about her childhood, Caucasia, the great emigration, the 
settlement in Adabazar, and how the chief of her clan 
sold her in Constantinople to an Egyptian palace. 

Her adventures I hardly listened to, but she always 
ended up with the Circassian youth, my father's pro- 
tege. "He must buy me when he gets rich and make 
me his concubine. We are both Circassians." 

But what I remember best of all her stories is a par- 
ticular Circassian peri who controlled the growth of 
corn in her country. The peri came on moonlight 
nights. Fikriyar had seen her standing in their fields, 
measuring the young corn. "Rakijala, rakijaki" the 
peri said, measuring some to her elbow which were to 
be the largest. "Mejkus, Mejkus" she said, measur- 
ing with her tiny fingers those which were to be the tiny 
shriveled ones. 

"What did she look like?" I used to ask. 

"She had such large breasts that she threw the right 
one over her left shoulder and the left one over her 
right." 

From the point of view of comparative folk-lore, this 
surprising trait has interested me since. It is a charac- 
teristic of our Turkish women giants; Devkarise also. 
But this particular peri had, besides, flowing hair, wav- 
ing in the wind and catching the rays of the moon. But 

24 Literary Turkish of those days was a thing apart from the spoken 
language, and largely unintelligible except to the initiated. 

90 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

I cannot be sure whether it was Fikriyar who told me 
this detail or whether I have added it from my childish 
fancy. 

Before I could read the African travels, Mahmoure 
Abla brought from Teize's library a little book in manu- 
script. I do not know how she obtained it, but I think 
Teize did not think much of it. As it had the Arabic 
vowel signs inserted in the text, I could read it for my- 
self, and most unfortunately for me I did read it. It 
was called "The Adventures of Death." 

My mind has a habit of making far too realistic pic- 
tures of its impressions — sometimes to my delight, but 
often to my torture. If I had had the talent of a 
painter to put these on canvas, it would have eased my 
mind, but there is no clumsier human being with the 
pencil than I. My mind has also an inner capacity for 
idealizing, harmonizing, and synthesizing sounds into 
wonderful musical combinations. If I had had any tal- 
ent in this direction, the proper kind of throat, I might 
have given some happy moments to my kind. As it is, 
both pictures and sounds, as well as the gestures of 
life, which are still more expressive than the first two, 
have accumulated in me in a million shapes and forms, 
as a music which, on account of its compression, has 
become a thundering harmony inside me. I cannot get 
rid of it sufficiently to ease my mind and heart. My 
struggle to give out some of it with my poor pen has 
neither eased me nor enabled me to externalize all that 
I have in me. But as my pen is my only outlet, I have 
to go on with it. 

91 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

The writer of "The Adventure of Death" must have 
been a remarkable person although very crude. He had 
the imagination of Dante without his genius; and his 
attempt to ease his burdened soul by describing the fan- 
tastic pictures which were torturing his imagination had 
a far greater success over me than Dante's. It began 
at the very moment when the angel of death, Azrael, 
takes one's soul away from the body. His manner was 
gentle with the good, so that death is an ecstasy of be- 
coming one with Allah ; but the pain of wrenching away 
a sinner's soul is agony beyond words. 

He tells the tale as if he had been personally through 
it, so authentic does it sound. On the first night in the 
grave the examiners of faith arrive. They stand at the 
head of the grave and ask: "Who is thy creator? 
Who is thy prophet?" Now although an imam stays 
close to the grave after the body is buried and every one 
else has retired and though the imam repeats the proper 
answers to refresh the memory of the dead person, yet 
he will infallibly forget them if he is a sinner, no matter 
how carefully he has committed to memory the articles 
of the Islamic faith. And when he stammers and fails 
to answer, the iron knobs of the rods which the angels 
carry in their hands will fall heavily on his head, beating 
it relentlessly. Then the author tells the story of bodily 
decay in forcible and realistic terms, and the dead suf- 
fers and feels in his prison in the earth every detail and 
accompaniment of the gruesome dissolution, the suffoca- 
tion, the damp earth, the eternal darkness, the scorpions 
eating into his brain and destroying his beauty of face, 

92 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE* 

the snakes crawling through his skull and the holes of 
his decaying skeleton. For years I had to fight this 
image of the grave every night. I would wake up in 
the middle of my sleep, jump up in my bed, and move 
my arms wildly around me, feeling for the earth, which 
I thought was covering me. In every attack of fever 
that I had I dreamt of snakes coiling all over my body. 

When the angels at last blew the bugle, according to 
the writer, men rose from their graves and marched to 
the last judgment. This march to the other world was 
vivid beyond anything; each class of sinners marched 
under the sign of its particular sin. There was one class 
to which Mahmoure Abla drew mv attention, the tell- 
tales. They had their tongues sticking out from the 
napes of their necks. This she told me to secure her 
smoking from being reported to the grown-up people of 
the house. 

Yet she committed the sin of telling tales herself in 
those days most treacherously and did not seem troubled 
by it in the least. 

Seeing that "The Adventure of Death" has brought 
us into the gloomy region of sins, I may as well deal 
with one of mine here. It would take, of course, more 
than a book to tell about any person's sins, and I am no 
exception, but there are two of mine which I am most 
ashamed of, one committed at six and the other at 
twenty-five. I shared my first conscious and despicable 
sin with Shayeste. 

One day she told me in secret that she had begun 
smoking, and she praised its delights to the height of her 

93 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

powers of language. In answer to my question as to 
how she obtained the tobacco, she told me that she got 
it from her father's tobacco-pouch when he was not in 
the room. Pride rather than moral considerations often 
keeps people from doing things in secret, and I am 
afraid I was proud to a sinful degree. Nevertheless I 
went with Shayeste when grandfather was not in his 
room and took some of his tobacco. It was the nastiest 
sensation I ever experienced in my childhood, so much 
so that no amount of persuasion would make me repeat 
it and go back and fetch the tobacco-paper which we for- 
got to bring too. I told Shayeste that I would roll the 
cigarettes with ordinary paper. But we had no time to 
smoke that day, and we simply hid the stuff among my 
dolls. 

The next morning, Mahmoure Abla called me from 
our play-room telling me that father was waiting for me 
in the garden. I found him pacing up and down under 
the acacias. He motioned Mahmoure Abla back to the 
house and kept his hands behind his back, ignoring my 
attempt to kiss them. He looked at me sternly, sadly, 
and then began to tell me why he had sent for me and 
why he did not want any one in the world to know 
what he was going to tell me. I do not remember his 
exact expressions. They were solemn, they were seri- 
ous, and I remember rather my state of acute suffering 
than his words. I neither cried nor answered; I did 
not try to kiss his hands any more. I walked back to 
the house in the misery and humiliation which is much 
the hardest to bear when one has really been guilty of 

94 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

a mean act. I felt sure that it was Mahmoure Abla 
who had told, but I was too miserable to care. I did 
not tell any one about her smoking in revenge, but it 
has left a certain feeling of disillusionment about her, 
which I know is ridiculous, but which I cannot even now 
get rid of. It had a good effect on me; I never smoked 
till I could do it before every one. This feeling of 
shame although not so violent was still deeper than my 
fear of "The Adventure of Death." 

It was during the summer of the same year when one 
evening, in our garden, I realized for the first time my 
charming old great-uncle, Vely Aga . 

All of us had assembled in the garden, as we usually 
did on summer evenings. Grandfather was smoking, 
walking up and down under the long vine-trellis. 
Granny and Teize were gardening, while Fikriyar, bare- 
footed, was watering, filling her watering cans from the 
lions' mouths. 

Warm, balmy, and sweet was the garden, while in the 
liquid blue of the twilight sky trembled one single star in 
a silvery haze. I must have seen the sky many times 
before, but this was my first impression of a star. As 
I was looking up through the leaves at the sky Vely 
Aga slowly came nearer and patted my head softly. 
He was dressed in those picturesque blue embroidered 
loose pantaloons and the vest of the Anatolian notable, 
and over his fez he wore a soft cream-colored silk turban. 
He had the large eyes of the Eastern Anatolian, the 
hooked nose and the white beard. His mild air, soft 
gestures, and the low, quiet voice were as different from 

95 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

grandfather's as the windless summer air is from a 
storm, yet both had their personal charm for me. He 
had come from Kemah partly to visit his eldest brother, 
and partly to buy presents for a son of his who was to 
be married after the Kurban B air am. He set me on his 
knees and looked at my face, saying that I had the eyes 
and the eyebrows of my Kemah relatives. "So much 
like Kezban she would be, if she only had pink cheeks," 
he said to granny. Whoever Kezban was, every one 
from Kemah told me that I was a city reproduction of 
her. I asked Uncle Vely about the star. He looked 
puzzled but could not say what it was. "I don't know 
what it is," he said. "I know that Allah has created it 
and the rest of the heavens for us." How incompre- 
hensible it seemed to me ! Allah, who created the angels 
to beat the heads of the dead with iron-knobbed rods, 
and who kept eternal fire and shut the dead up in earthly 
prisons, this Allah had also created this most beautiful 
light. Such a combination of love and torture made me 
think that Allah had after all as many aspects and at- 
tributes as we poor human beings. 

Uncle Vely stayed with us a fortnight. He occupied 
a room in the selamlik. He brought with him a subtle 
refinement, a balmy atmosphere ; and the feeling in the 
house, which was becoming distraught by the continual 
ill health of Uncle Kemal, by the fear of the old people 
that they might lose their last child, and by their money 
troubles, was soothed into an interval of happy peace. 
He bought all kinds of beautiful silk vests, blue cos- 
tumes, printed kerchiefs, and ivory combs, and he 

96 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

started for Kemah sometime before the Kurban Bai- 
ram. 25 I think I missed him most of all, but I was be- 
ginning to decipher the book of African travels, which 
consoled me more or less. 

It was about this time that our hodja begged granny 
to allow us to go to a bashlanmak ceremony in his school. 
Mahmoure Abla was placed with the hymn-chanters and 
I with those who repeat the amin. We walked to the 
boys' house in two long rows, and he, the son of humble 
parents and with no hired carriage, merely walked in 
front of the procession. The little girl near me in the 
procession had a yellow print dress and a bright head- 
kerchief of the same color. I was so distracted by this 
color that I was never in time with the general amin, 
and each time I was late the little yellow girl nudged 
me in the ribs, vigorously reminding me of my duty. 
When I heard my own ridiculous squeak all alone, I felt 
hot and cold with shame, all the length of that long, 
humble Ouzounjova Road with the cool vegetable gar- 
dens on one side and the little newly built houses on the 
other. So the little procession marched on in the dust- 
cloud it raised, chanting, "The rivers of Paradise, as 
they flow, murmur, 'Allah, Allah !' " 

When the little ones arrived at the school, a watery 
dish, meant to be sweet, was served with rather greasy 
wooden spoons. As the children sat happily round it, 
Mahmoure Abla pulled my sleeve and said I was not 
to touch it. The pained look of the hodja and my 

25 Kurban Bairam is a four days' festival about two months later than the 
Sheker Bairam. This one is celebrated with the killing of sheep. 

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MEMOIRS OF HAL1DE EDIB 

sudden sense of our spiritual separation from the poor 
children hurt me keenly. 

I have a sad feeling about this time in general. My 
nebulous life was clearing away, and more distinct forms 
of thought and perception were assailing me, so that I 
was turning gradually into a tortured interrogation- 
point. 

The day before the Kurban Bairam, granny took me 
for our annual visit to the tiirbeh of Eyoub. 26 Before 
my birth, it was very much hoped that I should be a boy, 
and father had vowed that he would name me, after the 
saint in Eyoub, Halid. When I disappointed them by 
turning out to be a girl, they persisted in giving me the 
feminine form of Halid, which is Halide ; and every year 
either father or granny took me to the Holy Tomb and 
sacrificed a sheep for the poor of Eyoub. 

As we were driving this year to Eyoub, grannj T 
stopped at Hadji Bekir's 27 and bought loukoum. 
"The softest you have," she said. "It is for an old lady 
of a hundred and ten." 

"Who is she?" I asked, as the carriage drove on. 

"My teacher," she said. "I have not been to see her 

26 Eyoub, the Turkish form of Job, is a suburb of Constantinople just 
outside the city walls on the Golden Horn. It is said to have been thus 
named to commemorate the fact that Eyoub, or Halid (as he was also 
called), one of the most devoted of Mohammed's followers, made a raid and 
entered the Byzantine city some hundreds of years before its final fall be- 
fore the Turkish armies in 1453. The Mosque of Eyoub is one of the most 
sacred. A tiirbeh is a small building round a tomb, often of great archi- 
tectural beauty. 

27 The great sweet-shop in Istamboul, specially renowned for its Turkish 
delight. 

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WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

for some time, and I need her blessing, 28 especially just 



now." 



So that year we called on the oldest lady in Eyoub, 
living in the oldest house in the place. Her face was 
like old white crumpled parchment, her eyes blurred 
and indefinite in color like those of a new-born baby; 
and she wore a snow-white muslin veil over her head. 
As she sat there propped up with pillows, her body 
looked tiny and dried. Somehow she made me think of 
Hava Hanum's stock description of the pope of the 
Christians : ever so many hundreds of years old, wrinkled 
and parched like yellow wax, and always kept in cotton- 
wool. Not but that this old lady appeared very ener- 
getic in her own way, spoke sweetly, remembered every- 
thing, and had none of the ugliness of old age, which I 
perceived in after years in others. She made one think 
of a precious candle slowly going out because the oil is 
all used. She called granny "my child," asked me to 
come close up to her, and then prayed for the happiness 
of granny's house, giving us all her blessing in clear 
tones. A younger old lady who was her daughter-in- 
law waited on her. The old house, its furniture, and the 
two old ladies make a regular Rembrandt picture in my 
mind. 

Then we went to the mosque for granny's afternoon 
prayers and passed on to the Holy Tomb through the 
wonderful mosque-yard, with its old birches full of 

28 A teacher's blessing is especially respected. One of the sayings of Ali 
is: "If some one teaches me one letter, I am his slave for life." 

99 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

cooing pigeons, and the blind beggars sitting in a row. 

In the green, cool silence of the turbeh, the guardian 
made me go three times through his large black rosary ; 
he gave us sacred water and fragments of the broom 
with which the turbeh was swept. This was to be 
burned, and I was to inhale it, as it had healing quali- 
ties. 

At the foot of the tomb, granny knelt, clutching the 
iron railings. Her lips moved, and a few drops fell 
from her eyes and slid down her wrinkled white cheeks. 
I have never seen granny look as lovely as she did that 
day. As we walked backward keeping our faces rever- 
entially toward the tomb, I asked her in whispers why 
she had cried. 

"I don't want Kemal to die," she said simply. 

When Kurban Bairam actually came, the sad and sol- 
emn feeling I had had at Eyoub had lost its intensity. 
That morning I saw eight big sheep, henna-painted, all 
bleating in the stables. In one corner of the garden 
some holes had already been dug, and grandfather was 
still busy with the preparations. He showed me each 
sheep one after the other. "This is Kemal's. This is 
thine. This is Reffet's, the child who is in heaven." 

I was heartbroken at the idea of killing these beauti- 
ful animals and asked whether it was necessary to kill 
them all. 

"How wilt thou cross the bridge Sirrat to heaven?" 
he asked. "It is finer than a hair and sharper than a 
sword, but those who have killed their sheep in obedience 

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WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

to the holy commandment pass over it on the back of 
these sheep, who go up to heaven and wait for us by the 
bridge." 

Then he told me the story from the Koran, identical 
with the Old Testament account of Abraham's sacrifice 
of Isaac, except that Isaac is replaced by Ismail in the 
Islamic tradition. He looked like Abraham himself, 
his white beard blowing in the wind, his powerful dark 
arms digging the pits. 

There was a little discussion at dinner-time between 
him and Uncle Kemal. Every male ought to sacrifice 
his own sheep, but Uncle Kemal, hating the sight of 
blood, had always refused to do it, and grandfather's 
Anatolian soul was wrathful at such Constantinopolitan 
squeamishness. 

Early next morning I woke up to hear deep manly 
bass voices chanting, "Allah Ekber, Allah Either" to 
the incomparable Turkish melody. I sat up in my bed 
and wondered for a time what was happening; but* I 
soon realized that the sheep were being killed. Once 
again I felt that slanting cut go through my whole body; 
and, closing my ears, I lay on my face, my head covered 
with the quilt. How I hated it, and all the bloody in- 
human side of religion, which commands people to shed 
blood and hurt helpless creatures! I was carried in 
Fikriyar's arms down-stairs. Every one was in the 
kitchen, busy cutting up the sheep for the poor. Every 
one had a blood sign on the forehead from the sheep 
sacrificed for him, and I was signed with the same sign 
too. 

101 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

About this time father took a house in the neighbor- 
hood of Beshiktash for his younger family and left the 
house in Yildiz. He used to ride up to Yildiz on his 
big bay horse, and in the evenings he usually called in 
at granny's and took a cup of coffee. I often rode on 
the horse with the groom and played in the Yildiz gar- 
den. The pompous brilliant selamliks 2Q of Abdul 
Hamid I could watch from the Terrace of the Ambas- 
sadors just opposite the Yildiz mosque. Abdul Hamid 
had this mosque built so as not to have to risk his life 
by taking the longer drive to an Istamboul mosque. 
Every Friday the place was set out like a grand thea- 
trical stage. Abdul Hamid's Albanian body-guard in 
bright red, his Tripolitan black guards in green and red, 
his numberless aides-de-camp in gilt uniforms, the gen- 
erals, the officers, the royal sergeants (chosen for their 
good looks) in blue jackets with long hanging sleeves 
lined with red, the incredibly beautiful horses pawing 
the ground impatiently, or stepping in time to the lively 
"March of His Majesty," the grooms in blue and red 
covered with real gold embroidery, the lovely music, the 
ambassadors in their grand uniforms, the numerous 
court officials in their elegant tight long black coats em- 
broidered in front, all elegant men with harmonious and 
soft gestures and salutations . . . and I, lifted on the 
shoulders of Ahmet Shevket Bey (an old pasha now, but 
a royal sergeant and brother-in-law of the sultan then) 
— we all waited for his Majesty to come out from the 
great portals in his carriage and make that momentary 

29 The Friday ceremony of the sultan going to prayer. 

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WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

passage to the mosque, saluting right and left as he 
flashed by. Opposite him sat Osman Pasha, the old 
hero of Plevna and of many popular songs too, his hands 
folded on his lap. The public favorite was thus ex- 
hibited in an almost humiliating position, in an enforced 
attitude of respect and subserviency to the sultan whom 
every one feared and many hated. I did not realize 
then that the man with the imposing nose and shifty eyes 
was the last Turkish emperor at his highest ascendancy. 
Yet thirty-odd years later I rode through the same door, 
opened by a half-blind porter, probably a man who had 
often seen me playing about the place in former days. 
Everything at Yildiz was and is still in decay, as all vain 
and wrong exhibitions of power should be. . . . There 
are indeed lots of these decaying palaces which used to 
be the scenes of pomp and royal ceremony. They are 
doomed, yet other human symbols of the same wrong 
conception of power, though embodied in different 
forms, rise over the old decay. Sometimes it makes 
one feel hopeless to watch the dull human intelligence 
which refuses to learn from the experience of the past. 
A baby had been born in my father's house about this 
time, a beautiful little girl called Neilufer. She was my 
sister they said, and she, as well as her dadi, who came 
often to granny's, drew me to my father's house very 
often now. The dadi was a Kurdish woman, a tall slen- 
der person dressed in very picturesque native costume. 
She wore red shalvars 30 and a dress over these, which 
was opened at both sides and in front, these pieces being 

30 Loose trousers, 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

lifted and pinned to her belt. Over her head, she wore a 
long soft printed material of many colors, which floated 
in the air as she walked with the particular pretty swing 
of Kurdish girls. Her dark eyes squinted when she 
sang, and she often sang the following lullaby, rocking 
the baby on her knees. 

"The pears shake on the branch and get sweeter as 
they shake. If the boy is a vizir, he has to beg the girl 
. . . nanni, nanni . . ." She was the original of the 
Kurdish heroine in my novel, "Kalb Arise" (heartache) , 
and her popularity with the public I believe is due to 
the pleasure I had in putting her into a book. 

I got my second and last scolding from my father 
about this time, and I am glad to be able to say that on 
this occasion if I was guilty it was unconscious guilt. 

Swearing attracted me very much as a child. Every 
one around me talked in a more or less refined manner, 
and, as it seemed to me, with a stupidly tame and dull 
politeness. Even grandfather, who had a touch of the 
common people, did not swear at all as the men and boy 
porters and the cabmen in the streets do. I used to 
stop and repeat to myself whatever I heard them say, 
quite unaware of the meaning. These phrases had a 
kind of flavor that was excluded from my own home. 
So one evening while dining at my father's house I re- 
peated to him a whole series of these violent oaths. 
Knowing their meaning, I cannot repeat them now. 
Father's face was crimson, and lifting his knife he shook 
it at me angrily. In a moment I felt wronged and hurt, 
and pushing my plate away I began to cry silently. At 

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WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

first he waited for my tears to cease, but they did not. 
They went on falling, falling quietly. I felt a nasty 
scar somewhere inside me which hurt so that it made my 
tears flow on. Father, finally, must have suffered even 
more than I, for he began to caress me and give me 
bright coins. He tried to play with me, but in vain. 
It was the greatest childish humiliation I remember. 
Years later I saw a parallel case of suffering in my 
dog, and I am tempted to tell the story. 

The dog before it belonged to me was with the revolu- 
tionary band of the Circassian Edhem, and had been 
evidently trained to catch sheep from the flocks and 
bring them to the band. The dog was the manliest and 
noblest creature I have ever known, and certainly did 
not realize the moral wrong of this clever feat. 

I had only had him for a few days, but we were learn- 
ing to love each other. In my long lonely rides he al- 
ways ran after my horse and used to make signs of de- 
light at the sight of every flock of sheep. One day, my 
orderly came in and told me that Yoldash had dragged 
a sheep out of a flock and brought it to him. I hastily 
ran out. There he was, sitting and wagging his tail, 
laughing his broadest and j oiliest dog laugh. I walked 
up to him and whipped him hard. 

The surprised pain of the dog and the suffering ex- 
pressed in his barks at my incomprehensible cruelty re- 
minded me of my own state of mind when I saw my 
father's knife held up and I knew that he was ashamed 
of me, though I could not understand the reason. Yol- 
dash will never know why masters or mistresses he loves 

105 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

are so different in their conceptions of wrong, as I have 
learned in later years. 

This is the way the great sorrow began which ended 
forever our life in granny's wisteria-covered house. 
Granny was making syrup for us in the dining-room, 
and the day was very hot. Uncle Kemal came back 
from his office and joined us, asking for some of the cool 
drink. Things seemed perfectly normal to me, when 
all of a sudden granny hastened out and fetched a bowl 
of cold water. Dipping a handkerchief into it, she put 
it on Uncle Kemal's head, and then she, with Hava 
Hanum, helped him to walk up to his room. 

A silent house, people moving about on tiptoe, Mah- 
moure Abla continually getting scolded for making a 
noise, which only produced worse or more frequent out- 
bursts of anger from her. 

How long this oppressive silence lasted I cannot tell. 
Granny was always up- stairs. Teize seldom appeared 
below. She was nursing Uncle Kemal. (Granny's 
sons were destined to be nursed by palace ladies on their 
death-beds.) Grandfather grumbled and wandered 
aimlessly about, and we were forgotten, left to ourselves. 
I used to sit down-stairs and feel the heavy air laden with 
mysterious warnings. Something in the air had grown 
as hard as the darkness in Nevres Badji's room, and it 
seemed to be actually pressing upon me and hurting me 
physically by its weight. A silent child by nature, and 
no longer with Shayeste to talk to, even occasionally, 
I was forgetting the sound of my own voice in ordinary 

106 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

talk. I remember the surprise with which I heard my- 
self repeating the Koran aloud to the hodja, and I can 
even tell the very sures 31 I was learning at the time. 

One morning we woke and found granny's bed empty 
and unused. Fikriyar came into the room and began to 
dress me hurriedly. Father was standing at the door, 
which quieted Mahmoure Abla. He was the only one 
in the house whom she loved and respected. 

We went straight to father's house. No explanation 
was given us, and the same heavy air and the same pain- 
ful expectation seemed to follow us there. But I found 
a new comfort. Once more I took refuge in the sweet 
friendship of a dog. Her name was Flora, and she be- 
longed to a valuable breed, so they said. She had ex- 
tremely delicate paws, and a short-haired coat, brown, 
shiny, and soft as velvet; with light brown eyes, very 
large and reddish rays of vivid light shooting from their 
depths at times. She was miserable in that house, al- 
though for very different reasons from mine. No one 
wanted her except father and me. Gully Hanum 
would not let her into her room, because she prayed five 
times a day, like a good Moslem, and she did not be- 
lieve that angels came to places frequented by dogs. 
Abla did not want her in her room, for she tore the bed- 
covers and quilts. Rosa, the Armenian woman-servant, 
with a bosom larger than me and Flora put together and 
a regular black mustache, did not want Flora anywhere 
in the house. The only places where she was allowed 
to go were the small marble hall and the terrace. But 

31 Surii are verses of the Koran. 

107 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

even there she was often scolded. The poor creature 
whined and cried at this cruel treatment so sadly that 
each time she was hit by Rosa I felt that same old slant- 
ing pain through my body. As it was a cold autumn I 
was forbidden to go out to her, but I escaped all the 
same and played with her and kissed her enough, as I 
hoped, to make up for Rosa's hard treatment. 

In the mornings father used to have us all in his room. 
Mahmoure Abla was allowed to hold the baby on her 
lap, while Flora and I sat on father's knee. Flora was 
caressed as much as I, and he used to say, "They have 
the same eyes, Flora and Halide." I believe we had. 
Both had the same sadness and the same wonder at what 
we found in this world, where we felt lonely and home- 
sick, though for what precisely I don't know — probably 
for a kindlier state of things altogether. Flora must 
be dead and happy in a dog's paradise by now, but I 
have had to go on from one stage to another, seeing the 
same tame and apparently harmless human specimens 
of my childhood act in such a way that I have felt not 
only the sadness and wonder of a dog but a dog's rage 
as well. 

The foreboding atmosphere came to a climax one eve- 
ning. I slept in Gully Hanum's room, and that par- 
ticular night I woke up with a nameless anxiety and 
fear. I could sleep no longer. Gully Hanum tried in 
vain to soothe me. I mention this particularly, for since 
that occasion, which was perhaps my first telepathic ex- 
perience, I have felt telepathically every real sorrow 
which has affected any one I loved. 

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WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

Early the next morning there was an unusual commo- 
tion in the house. Father came down dressed, and whis- 
pered distinctly to Gully Hanum that we were not to 
leave the house that day, and I was not to go to the 
rooms which opened on the main road. 

I stayed in the room with Gully Hanum, daring the 
angels to keep Flora with me. Flora seemed as much 
oppressed as I was and whined continually. I heard 
everybody trying to keep Mahmoure Abla from going 
out. "I saw the caldron and the teneshir," 32 she 
screamed. "They are for him." Finally I heard the 
door slam and knew she had escaped, and I asked no 
questions. 

Two days later father took me up to granny's house. 
We went through the selamlik door and walked up the 
selamlik stairs. In the middle of the guest-room there 
was a floor-bed, 33 and grandfather was sitting up in it, 
leaning against Suleiman Aga, a new servant and a dis- 
tant relative of his from Kemah, whom I now saw for 
the first time. He was breathing heavily, and his eyes 
looked intently at me. A depth of sorrow and the sud- 
den realization of the mystery of the hereafter seemed 
to be in them. They were bloodshot, wide open, im- 
pressive. He motioned father to bring me to his bed. 
I leaned over toward him, and he patted me on the head 

32 Each Moslem quarter has a caldron and a teneshir (stretcher,) which 
are used respectively to heat the water for washing, and to lay the dead 
out. Men and women are specially hired to do the washing of the dead. 
Those who follow this profession keep it a secret, for it is looked upon as 
something very degrading. 

3 3 The usual old-fashioned Turkish bed was merely a mattress laid 
on the floor. 

109 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

for a while, then motioned again to father to take me out. 
I returned immediately to father's home. 

A few days later Mahmoure Abla and I came back to 
granny's house. There was neither Uncle Kemal nor 
grandfather. The old man had followed his last child 
to the grave in three days. 

Granny sat in her usual corner. Her face looked 
stupid, expressionless, and empty. But as the human 
body reacts against disease, so does the human soul 
against sorrow. Granny's empty face, dry eyes, and 
the listless hands, which I had seen without work only 
during this short interval, were getting a fresh purpose. 
She was going to leave the scene of her sorrow and take 
a new house on the other side of the Bosphorus, in 
Scutari. As soon as she had found the place she 
wanted, the old wisteria-covered house began to be 
broken up, most of the furniture was sold, and the things 
we were to take were collected together and packed. 

The morning of our departure and the night before it 
are marked by two childish memories. Playing with 
granny's canary in Hava Hanum's room, Mahmoure 
Abla dropped a box of blocks with which we used to 
make pictures, and killed the bird. "We will pretend 
that we found it dead. Do thou go and tell granny 
and cry a little." I, who was too timid to express the 
most natural desire of my own, could not possibly bring 
myself to do such a thing as this, needing as it did a bold- 
ness which I totally lacked. I must have refused her, 
for she said, "Wet thy eyes from thy mouth then and 
come with me." She ran up-stairs dragging me by the 

110 



WHEN THE STORY BECOMES MINE 

hand. She darted into granny's peaceful room with a 
showy grief. 

Granny, reading a Turkish translation of one of the 
Dumas types of novel so charming and so distinctive a 
product of French genius, was sitting on her bed. Her 
lamp was on a low table, and she was reading aloud to 
herself as was her habit. She looked over her glasses at 
us, and I think that her face had got back some expres- 
sion into it, for she smiled, as she said: "Come here, 
Halide. Tell me if it is true." But I must have looked 
pitifully distressed, for she changed the subject sud- 
denly. "It is time for you to go to bed. We have to 
start early to-morrow," she said. As Fikriyar un- 
dressed me, I listened to the story granny was reading. 
It was about a kidnapped girl and two brothers, one 
blue-eyed, standing for goodness, and the other black- 
eyed, standing for wickedness. Since then I have read 
ever so many novels of this kind, hoping to find the rest 
of the story, but I have never succeeded. As for 
granny, though I asked her, she had forgotten its name, 
and so my curiosity as to the fate of the poor girl has 
never been satisfied. 

The next morning I got up with a sore feeling against 
Mahmoure Abla. I had a dim idea that granny knew 
about the canary and that we had made ourselves very 
ridiculous to the grown-ups. I hid a few earthworms 
in my hands and walked up to Mahmoure Abla, who was 
packing the dolls' beds. "Shut thy eyes and open thy 
mouth," I said, and she did as I told her, hoping for the 
usual sweet which we offered each other in this manner. 

Ill 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Throwing the wriggling creatures into her mouth I ran 
away. I cannot to this day think or explain how I 
planned such a disagreeable revenge. 

Thus closed the first period of my life, in the wisteria- 
covered house, at Beshiktash. 



112 




ENTRANCE TO EYOT'B MOSQEE 



CHAPTER III 

OUR VARIOUS HOMES IX SCUTARI 

THE new house was in Selimie, an old Turkish 
quarter looking over to the Marmora across the 
inky cypress line of the Karadja Ahmed Ceme- 
tery on one side, while on the other hand the misty 
Istamboul Point with its hundreds of minarets rose 
softly into the blue dome of sky beyond the Bosphorus. 
The house belonged to an old minister of war, and one 
half was still occupied by the owners. But our side 
was even as large as our old house in Beshiktash, while 
a wild garden, especially full of rose-bushes, stretched 
toward the cemeteries, giving us an ample sense of space 
and freedom. The whole quarter had a number of im- 
mense wooden houses purpled with age and on the brink 
of decay, each belonging to some grand vizir of half a 
century ago. Granny, repelled by the raw ugliness of 
new things, unerringly chose these beautiful old places 
in spite of their being half tumbled down. The house 
itself and a great part of the whole quarter is now 
burned, but I have several times since wandered among 
its ashes in my visits to the old haunts. Besides the 
rose-bushes, the garden had a very big walnut-tree, up 
which Mahmoure Abla used to climb daily. Its height 
made me dizzy even to look up at it. 

113 



MEMOIRS OF HAEIDE EDIB 

The imam of Selimie was engaged after our arrival to 
come and teach us every evening. Before long father 
came to live with us too, bringing Abla and his whole 
household. There was a new baby girl now, Nighiar, 
who took Neiliifer's place as the most despotic and 
spoiled creature in the household. My life slowly 
drifted from the harem to the selamlik, which was, how- 
ever, now no longer as important a place as it had been 
in grandfather's lifetime. The men-servants interested 
me more than Abla's Anatolian maids and Fikriyar. 
There were no more evening talks in Hava Hanum's 
room, for she had taken charge of Neiliifer, and the child 
was put to bed in her room early in the evening. 

Suleiman Aga stayed only for a short time, for on 
account of being a distant relation he took on such airs 
that he displeased granny. To me he was distinctly at- 
tractive, for he was full of fairy-stories of Eastern 
Anatolia, and also of personal adventures, which I 
thought even more wonderful. Mahmoure Abla teased 
him incessantly, because she found out that he had three 
wives in Kemah. He explained the reason for his polyg- 
amy in words which I cannot forget, and which I think 
made me feel that he was justified. He classed his 
wives according to their capacity to cook pilaf. 1 "My 
first wife," he would say, "cooked it badly. It was 
much too dry, so I married the second, hoping for some- 
thing better ; but she, not knowing my taste in pilaf, and 
thinking to please me by her economy, cooked it drier 

i Known to the English as "pilau" — the national dish made of rice which 
appeared at the end of almost every Turkish meal. 

114 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

still. So I married a third before the second had been 
with me forty days. Lo ! a pilaf appeared delicious and 
buttery, so much so that the butter dripped down from 
my mustache and beard. Then I felt that I had found 
the woman I wanted, and I have never married again 



since." 



After Suleiman Aga appeared Ahmed Aga, a short 
small man from Eghin, dark, sly, and intelligent ; a man 
who could read and write and handle, or rather rule, 
his masters with psychological insight. From him I 
got a great deal of my early education. The fact that it 
was not given in lesson form made it all the more ef- 
fective and appealed to the more artistic part of my na- 
ture. It was bv a mere chance that I fell under the in- 
fluenee of a man of his type, but it was this chance that 
opened to me the folk-lore, the popular Turkish litera- 
ture, which none of the rest of my generation of writers 
have enjoyed. 

As some one had discovered a musical talent in me, 
which I never possessed, I began to take piano-lessons 
about this time. It must have been a funny proceed- 
ing, for I had to be lifted on the chair, and my hands, 
though naturally big, were not yet big enough to strike 
the notes properly. Still I worked on at it earnestly, 
as I did with the rest of my lessons, but I lived only 
when Ahmed Aga was reading stories or when we were 
wandering together in the cemeteries or over the mead- 
ows stretching toward Haidar Pasha. 

The reading of Ahmed Aga covers a period of 
nearly three years ; that is, from the time when he first 

115 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

came until I had been at the American College for my 
first year. The first story I had from him was "Battal 
Gazi." I found Ahmed Aga reading a big black book 
one day and asked him to tell me the story. He read 
something which charmed me so intensely that I got hold 
of the book and struggled on by myself, reading aloud 
and asking him a thousand questions about things I did 
not understand. So this crude story, which was the 
great military epic of the janizaries and had fired their 
imagination in their martial feats, was my first plunge 
into the heroic fiction of olden times. 

Battal Gazi, 2 a man from Malatia, really lived and 
fought against the Byzantines. His tomb is in Seid 
Gazi, a place near Eskishehir, the scene of hard battles 
between the Greeks and the Turkish Nationalists in 
1921. 

It was not so much the meager historical facts in the 
book but its Oriental imagination which took hold of me. 
It was as long as the African travels, so that despite hard 
reading it took me more than six months to get through. 
The book is a series of battles ; and the color, the force, 
and the sound of fighting are there. Battal's war-cry 
sends twenty infidels to hell, their eternal abode as he 
calls it. He is so big, such a symbol of force and fear, 
that the Greek women sent their naughty children to 
sleep by frightening them with his name. There is an- 
other mighty man with him, three hundred years old, 
once a companion of the Holy Prophet, who has, how- 

2 Gazi is an old Moslem title given to those who fight for the Faith and 
who are thereby entitled to a place in paradise. 

116 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

ever, left him behind on earth so that he may help the 
Gazi in this world. 

Battal kidnaps one Greek princess after another, and 
the Byzantine Csesar builds the Leander Tower in the 
middle of the Bosphorus to hide the most beautiful one 
from the great Gazi. But of course he finds and mar- 
ries her all the same. The struggle goes on for a gen- 
eration, but the name of the Byzantine Csesar is always 
Heraclius ; his army each time is exactly three hundred 
thousand men, while the Gazi's army numbers only a 
few thousand. It is, however, not the men of the Turk- 
ish army but the Gazi and the Old Man who caused the 
Greek routs and killed more by their very war-cries 
than the Greeks could by real fighting. So said the 
book, with its tremendous din of battle, the high dust- 
clouds rising under the tramp of armies, the danger, the 
clever escapes, and the great victories. The book could 
not have charmed the early janizary ancestors of ours 
more than it did me and Ahmed Aga. 

The next book of Ahmed Aga's was on the same kind 
of funny yellow paper and in the same bad Persian 
print as the first. It was in verse, and told all about 
Abamouslin Ilorassani. This was the Persian hero who 
took the part of the fallen house of Abbassides against 
the Ommiads. The struggle was long, bloody, and cruel 
beyond human endurance. It almost provides a parallel 
to the Inquisition in Spain. I confess that the book 
gave me cold shudders, and I liked it distinctly less than 
Battal's frank and picturesque story, but through it I 
got an insight into the subtle and complicated Asiatic 

117 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

soul, with its inheritance from how many forgotten civi- 
lizations permeating the chivalrous Islamic Arabic 
world and introducing there its germs of decay, which 
completely destroyed its political unity and independ- 
ence. 

The wonderful Islamic democracy, based on the peo- 
ple's choice of great and idealist leaders, full of hu- 
manity and common sense, became an Asiatic despotism 
of dynasties, based on personal ambition, distrust, and 
mutual hatred, leading to the unscrupulous and diabolic 
destruction of each other and of hordes of innocent peo- 
ple supposed to be on one or the other side. 

The book seemed to squeeze my heart in an iron band, 
tightening with the ugly passions and demonstrations of 
power of the famous heroes. I wondered all the time 
what the simple little children were doing when all this 
bloody and cruel struggle was going on in a country, 
whether they dared to go into the streets and play, and 
what sort of nights they had and what dreams they 
dreamed. Years after when in Syria I was walking in 
the Beirut streets with Colonel Fuad Bey, the chief of 
staff, and the little Arab children saluted him, as they 
usually do salute uniforms, he suddenly turned to me 
and said: "The saluting of children shows that there 
is something wrong in our rule. They should not be 
aware of us." Whenever I see or read of a great mili- 
tary hero performing his deeds, and of history or lit- 
erature recording them, I wonder in the same way, not 
about the children only, but about the simple grown-up 
people as well. If only history would refuse to record 

118 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

martial glories, and literature and art to immortalize 
them, there might be some semblance of peace and rela- 
tive human happiness in the world. 

Neither Battal Gazi nor Abamouslin Horassani were 
my personal heroes. It was rather the grandiose 
scenario of their lives, and the ensemble of the dramatic 
events in which they took part, which riveted my imag- 
ination. But I found my hero at last in Ali, the fourth 
caliph, the Lion of Allah and the son-in-law of the 
Prophet. 

The stories of Ali were also war-tales, but I never 
wondered about the fate of children and the simple 
crowd under his sway. On the contrary I felt confident 
that they had a greater peace of mind and felt safer 
simply because Ali lived among them. Ali mostly 
killed dragons who ate people up. He destroyed the 
personified fear of the primitive mind against which 
the others of his time had not the strength to stand. 
There is a strange similarity in the popular heroes of 
all peoples. The fighters of great battles, the slayers 
of men, even when these are the enemies of their coun- 
tries, are admired, but feared at the same time; and their 
fame rises or falls according to the outlook of the times. 
Napoleon or Alexander have not kept their position; but 
the heroes of the popular mind, the killers of dragons, 
are eternally beloved, whether it is the northern Sieg- 
fried, the Russian St. George, or the Arabic Ali. Man 
always has a tender spot for such in his heart. In some 
way they express the fight against darkness and fear, 
the hero who does not stand in the historical arena for 

119 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

personal success but for the peace of his fellow-men's 
minds and their moral security. 

From the material and the political point of view, Ali 
is the least successful Islamic hero. Every adversary 
of his takes advantage of his nobility of heart. In the 
Battle of Saffein his enemies, unable to conquer him in 
fair fight, put Korans on the ends of their spears and ap- 
peal to his veneration for the sacred word. Ayesha, the 
great woman warrior and orator, the widow of Moham- 
med, merciless when she wins, is forever taking advan- 
tage of his chivalrous respect for women and of his ad- 
miration of the Prophet. He finally dies unsuccessful 
but undaunted, always morally clean, manly and hu- 
mane to his enemies, tender and good to the weak. No 
wonder there are so many religious sects that worship 
him, not only as a great hero but even as the incarna- 
tion of Allah. The Western mind's conception of 
Christ's achievement of success in the highest spiritual 
domain, obtained at the cost of suffering, shame, and a 
humiliating death, has its counterpart in the mind of the 
Moslem in the personality of Ali. 

During our own early republican struggles at An- 
gora, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was studying the epoch- 
making struggles of the Islamic Republic in the seventh 
century a. d. I was interested to observe his contempt 
for what he considered Ali's weakness. "Ali was a 
fool," he used to say. 

Mahmoure Abla was eleven years old now and wore 
the veil when she was outside; but nothing would per- 

120 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

suade her to do so in the garden, although it was exposed 
to the view of the passers-by, having only a low railing 
instead of a wall. She ran out and played there like 
any tomboy, usually perched on a high branch. A 
queer scene took place under the walnut-tree one after- 
noon. She was up in the tree picking walnuts and 
throwing them down to me, when Fikriyar came run- 
ning out and told us the geurujil 3 had come for Mah- 
moure, and she must come in instantly to get ready to 
see them. This Mahmoure Abla obstinately refused to 
do, and she did not move till the whole household had 
gathered under the tree, including granny, who begged 
her for some time most ineffectively. Although granny 
did not think of marrying her off so young, still the geu- 
riijii could not be refused lest they should never come 
again. 

Finally she descended and went in. They dressed 
her, I remember, in some of our stepmother's clothes — 
her own grand grown-up dresses not being, I suppose, 
yet fully prepared for her — and she followed Fikriyar, 
who went in before her carrying the coffee. The best 
chair in the house was put in the middle of the room for 
her. She made the proper graceful salutation to the 
company and then sat down, while the ladies slowly 
sipped their coffee, inspected her carefully, smiled their 
formal smiles, and made formal remarks about the 

3 Literally, the seers. When a girl is known to be of marriageable age, 
ladies from neighboring families will call to look at her and report on her 
appearance to a would-be bridegroom. If a girl does not show herself on 
such occasions, the word will probably go round that it is useless to seek 
her hand. 

121 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

weather and the social position of the bridegroom. 
When the first lady put her cup on the tray this was the 
signal for the departure of the would-be bride. She 
saluted and retired. The time taken by the geurujii 
in drinking their coffee was the clue to their opinion of 
the girl. One often heard it asked with painful excite- 
ment after a geuriijil visit whether they had handed 
back their coffee-cups too soon or not. Although the 
first time was exciting enough, the business was in real- 
ity a dull and unbearable ceremony. But it was the key 
to the entrance to life for the Turkish girls of that time. 

One afternoon granny sent us to the theater in Haidar 
Pasha with Hava Hanum. We were to see Abduraz- 
zak, the famous Turkish comedian of that time. When 
Turkish art is properly studied he will have an acknowl- 
edged place as the Nassireddin Hodja of the Turkish 
stage. 

The Turkish theater had two origins. The first was 
the national one, orta oyoun* which corresponds in some 
ways with the first European open-air plays. These 
representations consisted mostly of reviews, skits on the 
peculiarities of all the different nationalities and classes 
in the country, satires on social vices, or veiled criticism 
of the political evils of the day. It was mostly impro- 
vised by the actors on the stage, although of course 
based on some sort of plan or story agreed on before- 
hand. 

The second origin was entirely French. This was in- 
troduced by Namik Kemal, Noury, and Ahmed Midhat 

4 Open-air plays. 

122 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

Beys. They founded the Guedik Pasha Theater about 
1867 and translated or adapted plays from the French 
for performance there. Gully Agop, an Armenian, a 
talented actor, with his troupe, really started the roman- 
tic style of acting in Turkey. He and his whole com- 
pany were trained in Turkish pronunciation by Namik 
Kemal. Ahmed Vefik Pasha's adaptation of Moliere 
and the translations of Dumas fits furnished the Turk- 
ish stage with comedy and romantic drama to begin 
with; and Kemal himself wrote some patriotic plays 
which became very popular. This Europeanized school 
continues to the present time and has formed the origin 
and the basis of the Turkish stage of to-day. We have 
now good Turkish actors, although the influence of the 
French stage is still very marked. 

At the same time the open-air national theater, the 
orta oyoun, was affected by this change. It migrated 
from the open air to fragile wooden stages with closed 
roofs. These were most affected by Moliere's humor in 
their comic plays, but they continued to give old Turkish 
love-legends such as "Leila Mejnoun" and "Asli Ke- 
rem" for their romantic dramas, queerly dramatized by 
the actors themselves. This still goes on in the second- 
rate theaters to which the poorer classes go. 

My first impression of the Turkish theater was the 
crowded condition of the place. It was crammed. The 
women's part, divided off by lattices, smelled of every 
imaginable thing. Every one was eating all kinds of 
fruit and sweets, throwing the bits on the floor, drinking 
syrups, calling for more; and through all this eager 

123 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

business the play went on as an exciting accompaniment. 

The entry of Abdi aroused a perfect thunder of ap- 
plause. He was a fine middle-aged man, with a round 
brown beard and eyes such as only great comedians have. 
They seemed to me to have points in them; they were 
smiling, mocking, and at the same time very, very sad. 
Their liquid mobility of expression was wonderful as 
they passed from one mood to another. The continual 
roar of laughter, the fond and loving gaiety his presence 
aroused, could be only explained by the subtle immate- 
rial quality of a real artist. The recital of any of his 
scenes may not mean much to a European reader now, 
but every one who went to see him was infected with his 
humor, which was as much that of the masses as Nassir- 
eddin Hodja's and the Karageuz's. 

Abdul Hamid feared the popularity of two men, Os- 
man Pasha and Abdurazzak. He kept Osman Pasha 
away from the public by attaching him to his royal per- 
son, and he followed the same tactics with Abdi. The 
famous comedian was taken into the royal Music and 
Amusement Department and was forbidden to play in 
public. A despot is not a real despot if he is not jealous 
of every popular talent not exclusively used for his royal 
pleasure, and permitted to the public only through him. 
It is not perhaps political supremacy that has the great- 
est influence on the people. Art has a still greater 
power, and once it has gained sway, it cannot be de- 
throned from the public heart. Nero's theatrical ca- 
price was only a despot's natural desire for lasting 
power. Abdi's life in the palace created a series of leg- 

124 



OUR VAEIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

ends, and he was restored to the public after the Consti- 
tutional Revolution of 1908. But the interval of his 
absence corresponded with such a poor and imitative 
period in our theatrical life that the public taste was 
utterly perverted. I saw him in 1914, and it was really 
a pitiful spectacle. He had had to act in some vile films 
in order to regain the notice of the public, and when he 
appeared between the acts with his famous broom, in the 
dress of the stupid servant, there were only a dozen small 
children and six grown-ups present. I shall never for- 
get him as he came on the stage. We clapped with all 
the sincerity of his old audiences, and he stood leaning 
on his broom and smiling at us in a friendly and intimate 
way. The sadness and the conscious deception of that 
artistic smile actually hurt one. 

About this time father took us to a circus, and the 
young girl in the jockey's costume who made the horses 
jump took my breath away with such admiration that 
for a long time afterward I had the greatest ambition 
to be a circus girl. 

At this time in my wanderings in the cemeteries of 
Karadja Ahmed with Ahmed Aga I often saw an old 
man with white beard and untidy clothes walking aim- 
lessly among the graves. One day I met him with 
granny, and to my great surprise she walked up to him 
and asked him how he was. Later she told us his story, 
which impressed me strangely. He was a man hardly 
forty years old, but he had lost his wife about fifteen 
years ago, and his mind had wandered after her so that 
for a whole year he had raved, trying to open her grave 

125 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and see her once more. Finally, after consulting reli- 
gious opinion, they had the grave opened. The sight 
of the half-decayed body of his wife brought his senses 
back, but he still haunted the tomb. In that cemetery 
of forgotten and half-destroyed graves his wife's always 
had flowers and a nightly lantern burning over it. 

After moving to several houses of the same type as 
the one I have already described, we took one at Ayazma 
by the sea-shore, on the Scutari side of the Bosphorus. 
This also was spacious and had a lovely back garden 
with a rich cluster of plum-trees. In front of the house 
men used to come to wash in the sea the pretty printed 
muslins which are made by the hundreds in Turkey. 
Hung on strings between sticks stuck in the sand, they 
fluttered their colors above the bright beach, of which 
at times each pebble would seem to catch the evening 
sun, all together glistening in a thousand hues, while the 
sea-waves with their frothy crests washed them in a slow 
harmony. Leander's Tower was only about a hundred 
meters away in the sea, in front of the house. I both- 
ered Ahmed Aga so much about this that he hired a 
caique one day and took me to see the inside of it. It 
was only a prosaic lighthouse after all, kept by guards, 
who, however, happened to be from his country. I 
wanted to know from exactly which chamber the Greek 
princess had been stolen, but no one in the place was able 
to gratify my curiosity. 

Not long after we had taken this house a letter ad- 
dressed to father arrived from Mahmoure Abla's father, 
Ali Shamil, who was then in exile. It was now that I 

126 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

learned the dramatic episode of father's friendship with 
his wife's first husband. Putting together Hava 
Hanum's tales and my father's version of the meeting 
in Mecca, I was able later to piece together the story of 
my mother's two marriages and the friendship of her 
two husbands afterward. 

Eedirhan Pasha, the famous Kurdish chieftain, was 
brought to Istamboul after a rebellion in Kurdistan. 
The government, wanting to keep some sort of hold over 
him on account of his prestige in his own country, gave 
him a big konak 5 for himself, his forty children, and his 
ten wives, and allotted salaries to each member of the 
family in exchange for their vast property in Kurdistan, 
which had been requisitioned. 

One of the younger, and perhaps the handsomest of 
these numerous children, Ali Shamil, at the time a young 
lieutenant, married my mother, then a girl of fifteen. 
In my mother's case it was arranged that her husband 
should make his home with his parents-in-law. This is 
called icherriye almak (literally, to take inside; i. e., the 
bridegroom). In the opposite arrangement, when the 
bride goes to her parents-in-law, it is called dishariya- 
vermeh (literally, to give outside; i.e., the bride). In 
some cases, however, the young couple started in a sepa- 
rate house of their own. Love was not lacking between 
the youthful couple, and Ali Shamil with his countless 
brothers, who were constantly visiting him, introduced a 
gay but very wild tone into the sober quiet house, 

o An old-fashioned Turkish town house, belonging to a person of con- 
siderable standing. 

127 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

completely disturbing its traditional routine. Very 
often there was music, dancing, drinking, singing, and 
sometimes shooting for the mere fun of it in the garden. 
Ali Shamil, however, went further than shooting out- 
side and one day fired through the ceiling of the room 
where he was roistering, the bullet going through the 
legs of poor Trigiil Hanum, who happened to be in bed 
just above. The hole was still in the ceiling when I was 
a child, and granny used always to tell about it in the 
same excited tones of horror. After three or four years 
of this sort of thing the quiet Anatolian Turk in grand- 
father could bear it no longer, and he obtained my 
mother's divorce. I can imagine her, with those sweet 
eyes of hers, quietly obeying her parents' wishes. 
Mahmoure Abla was a baby of two when she married 
again, after some discreet flirtations through the win- 
dows. This time it was a young palace secretary who 
had come to live in their quarter. Father must have 
been very much in love with her, and he was very fond 
too of the little girl. To this day indeed he is perhaps 
more attached to her than even to some of his own chil- 
dren. 

Before many months had passed after their marriage 
Abdul Hamid decided to send an extraordinary commis- 
sion of inquiry to Mecca with orders to set up Abdillah 
Pasha, whom they took with them, as the sherif of 
Mecca, and to depose the sherif Abdullah, who had been 
the cause of some political agitation. Father went as 
the secretary of the commission under Lebib Effendi, 
one of our greatest judges and a man of high moral 

128 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

standing. It happened that Ali Shamil was appointed 
as aide-de-camp of the new sherif. Their adventures 
in crossing the Mediterranean might have been the 
model for Harry Dwight's "Leopard of the Sea." As 
a matter of fact, all government commissions and voy- 
ages in official boats in those days were the same. Ab- 
dul Hamid, afraid of his own navy, kept all his war-ships 
shut up in the Golden Horn. When a special commis- 
sion was to go anywhere, one of these old hulks was 
brought out and despatched in an absolutely unsea- 
worthy condition. The obedience due to the sultan 
forced his envoys to accept all risks without demur, but 
each of them took farewell of his family knowing well 
that it might very probably be his last, and many made 
their w r ills before starting. 

Their journey through the desert was quite as extraor- 
dinary — no railways, only camels to ride, and naked 
Arab bandits buried in the yellow sand, lying in wait 
and rising at the approach of the caravans. Fi- 
nally, however, they arrived in Mecca and read the 
firman c to the thousands of pilgrims assembled on 
Arafat. 

The usual cholera in Mecca was a little worse that 
year, and the commission tried hard to avoid contagion. 
But the young Kurdish aide-de-camp was obstinately 
neglectful of all hygienic measures and caught the epi- 
demic. No one cared to go near him, but the young 
secretary, for whom Ali Shamil had already shown a 

e A firman is an edict. Abdul Hamid as caliph had authority over the 
whole Moslem world. 

129 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

decided inclination, stayed by him and nursed him. 
This episode of manly affection between the two men 
must have been full of dramatic effect, for Ali Shamil 
did not know who father was, while father all the time 
knew him to have been the first husband of his own wife. 
In one agonizing moment when Ali Shamil felt that he 
was dying, he spoke about a young wife, the daughter of 
Ali Effendi, whom he had been forced to divorce, and 
the baby girl he had left with her. He begged his new 
friend to take them his watch and his few belongings and 
his last blessings when he died. Then father told him 
that he was the man who had married Ali Effendi's 
daughter and that he loved the little girl as his own child, 
so that her father could die in peace. He covered Ali 
Shamil with his fur coat, which he kept as a souvenir 
for years. But the young soldier did not die. He had 
still further to fulfil his eventful destiny, sometimes very 
brilliant, but sad and ugly in the end. Ali Shamil gave 
me his version of the story many years later. 

On his return from Mecca he had brought on himself 
Abdul Hamid's anger by attacking in a savage brawl 
the court astrologer, Ebiil Hiida. He and some of his 
brothers were exiled to Damascus, but when later he was 
restored to favor he used to come often to see us all. 
For me he had a specially tender feeling. A very hand- 
some man, with burning beautiful eyes and an eagle 
nose, mighty shoulders, and a brilliant uniform, he is 
still vivid in my memory. He was a pasha then and one 
of the most influential men around Abdul Hamid. I 
was about twelve years old, but he treated me with a 

130 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

chivalrous and rather funny respect such as is generally 
only given to older women. With me he never even 
hinted at the risque stories which he was very apt to 
tell to others. "She has her mother in her," he used to 
say. 

One particular morning, I remember, he had come 
early to our house in Sultan Tepe, and I met him in the 
garden. To be able to run comfortably, I had twisted 
my plait round my head, and I smiled joyfully at the 
vision of strength and vitality which his very presence 
created. As I kissed his hand I saw his face take on a 
sad expression. 'You have her look this morning, 
Halide," he said, "that funny trick of the single dimple, 
and that hair-coil. I did love her so !" 

Then he drifted simply into the story of their life. 
Many years had passed since he had divorced mother, 
and he had married nine women one after another since. 
Strangely indeed not one of his wives lived long except 
the last two. He told me that none had stirred his heart 
as my quiet and homely mother had. "I am glad she 
spent her last years with a better man than I," he said 
generously, and then went on to tell me the story of 
Mecca — how he had loved father and how grateful he 
was to him, but how he wanted to kill him when he 
learned that he was now her husband. Yet in his exile 
he was happy to feel that his daughter, after losing her 
mother, was still in loving and fatherly 'hands. 

I am glad that father outgrew the bitterness of the 
finding of the portrait at mother's death, and seemed 
sincerely fond of Ali Pasha. The letter, whose arrival 

131 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I mentioned at the beginning, was to ask for a photo- 
graph of Mahmoure. This father had taken and sent it 
to him in Damascus. 

From these stories of heroism and adventure I must 
pass on to the simple, tedious, but charming love-legends 
with Ahmed Aga. They were also on yellow paper, 
and in very poor print with the queerest of pictures. 
We often sat by the sea-shore, I eating my breakfast of 
bread and cheese and melons, and he reading aloud. 

A Turkish Wagner or Tennyson would have made 
wonderful music and poems out of them, for they are 
fully as beautiful as the medieval legends of Europe. 
As it is, only Leila and Mejnoun have passed into im- 
mortality in the poems of Fuzully; the rest are still in 
their yellow paper and crude print, and I don't believe 
any Turkish child reads them now. They are not the 
up-to-date love stories which everybody demands. 
There is, however, one among them, "Kerem and Asli," 
a very beautiful poem which an Azerbaijan musician has 
set to music and has called it an opera. The story is 
this: 

The shah of Ispahan had a beautiful son, Prince 
Kerem, who fell in love with the daughter of an Ar- 
menian priest. The priest, being a fanatical Christian, 
did not want his daughter to marry a Moslem prince. 
Too much afraid of the shah, however, to refuse, he gave 
his consent and named the marriage day on which the 
royal procession was to come and fetch the bride from 
his house. 

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OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

On the appointed day a grand procession started with 
Prince Kerem at its head. As they approached the 
house the prince stopped the procession and went on 
alone. The doors were open and the house empty! 
The family had fled. Then Kerem all of a sudden be- 
came a poet, like all the lovers of his type, and he began 
to sing to the belongings of his beloved — her embroidery- 
frame, the divan she sat on. . . . And all the furniture 
began to answer him in song. 

Then Prince Kerem, changing his dress, took the 
simple garb of a bard and, with his lute, wandered away 
in search of Aslihan. He sang, asking news of his be- 
loved from the clouds, the mountains, the fountains, the 
maidens washing clothes by the rivers, and the flying 
cranes. And each answered back in song. 

In one city he almost succeeded in his quest. Asli- 
han's mother had become a dentist. The prince discov- 
ered this, and pretending to have toothache, he went to 
her and asked her to pull out his tooth. She placed his 
head on Aslihan's knee so as to extract the tooth. So 
enraptured was he in this position that he begged to have 
all his teeth pulled out. In the middle of the process, 
however, he was recognized. This made the family fly 
once more. After endless further adventures and suf- 
fering he found them again in an Anatolian town. 
Here he charmed the governor by his singing, and the 
notables of the city took his part, forcing the priest to 
give his daughter to Kerem. 

The priest, however, was well versed in witchcraft and 
proceeded to make a magic dress for Aslihan, which 

133 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

buttoned from the neck right down to the hem of the 
skirt in such magical sort that no one could unbutton it. 

On the nuptial night, when the girl tried to divest 
herself of it, all her efforts were vain. Kerem had re- 
course to the help of his enchanted lute and his own po- 
tent singing. Sure enough these availed. The buttons 
opened one after another down to the bottom, but no 
sooner were they undone than they buttoned themselves 
up all over again. This exasperating scene lasted till 
morning, when the first light of dawn filtered through 
the windows. Kerem was in the last stages of torture. 
The fever in his heart was turning into real flames. 
With one last sigh a fire broke from his mouth, and his 
whole body was consumed and turned to ashes. 

Along with my attachment to Ahmed Aga, which 
filled the outdoor side of my life, was a growing affec- 
tion for Teize, which was as it were the indoor comple- 
ment of the other. I had become her child. Every 
morning I went into her room, where she bestowed ex- 
cellent care upon me, including such personal attention 
as brushing, combing, and washing me. Then she kept 
me occupied according to the daily plan which she had 
prepared. I had a feeling of really belonging to her. 
This sense of being some one else's property did not 
worry me in the least as it would have done later. It 
was a mild repetition of the Kyria Ellenie affair. 
Mahmoure Abla, who was on rather bad terms with 
Teize, used to snub me and say, "She has designs on 
father." As a matter of fact, I believe it was more a 
case of father's having designs on her. 

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OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

Several times that year on Ramazan nights I was al- 
lowed to go to "Karageuz" with Ahmed Aga. The en- 
tertainment took place in a large coffee-house in the 
Scutari market. The streets were lighted — a sign of 
festival in those days — and we passed through a mixed 
crowd of both sexes and children. 

Little wooden stools were placed in rows; and in a 
corner hung a small, white cloth, 7 behind which burned 
brilliant torches. A queer colored picture of a dragon 
or a flower, cut in card, was showing from behind the 
cloth when we entered, and a mysterious buzzing sound, 
presumably emitted by this creature itself, kept the 
little crowd happy and expectant till the real play be- 
gan. 8 Meantime the children made a tremendous noise, 
tapping their feet impatiently in a common rhythm and 
calling out all together: "Wilt thou begin? When 
shall we begin?" 

The tambourines rattled, and the really pretty en- 
trance song began to be sung behind the curtain. This 
of course quieted the little audience. But when 
Karageuz's sly and feignedly stupid profile appeared 

I This cloth or screen, as in the shadow-plays one sometimes sees in Eu- 
rope, or as in the old-fashioned magic-lantern shows, was the stage on 
which the whole performance was enacted. The performers — marionettes 
of a peculiar kind — were figures cut in camel-leather or some similar sub- 
stance, their faces, clothes, limbs, etc., being partly distinguished by color- 
ing, partly by slits, cut something after the fashion of an elaborate Jap- 
anese stencil-card. The leather was rendered translucent and both shape 
and color were clearly visible when the torches threw them as mellow-tinted 
shadows on the screen. 

8 This was the geuster melik — the advance sample (to translate very 
freely) of what was to come — and it vanished from the screen, giving place 
to the full excitement, when the proper moment arrived. 

135 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

near the top of the screen on one side and he began the 
dialogue with Haji Eivad, peeping out from the other, 
the general laughter started. At the leap of Karageuz 
to begin the traditional mutual beating between him and 
Haji Eivad, the small audience expressed its delight 
with uncontrollable roars. 

I was charmed beyond description. The music, the 
color, the humor, the absolutely original tone, the un- 
pretentious artistry, and the extraordinary ensemble 
have kept Turkish children, as well as the grown-up 
public, in thrall for centuries. It is one of the heart- 
breaking facts of to-day that our new taste, or rather 
lack of taste, has killed this wonderful and simple art. 
Its origin as known commonly among the Turks is this : 

Among the builders engaged upon the mosque of 
Murad I there were two men: one, Haji Eivad, a sen- 
tentious, pompous, and pedantic person with a solemn 
conceit in regard to his own merits; and Karageuz, his 
friend. The latter was a simple fellow, full of the most 
exaggerated common sense and a humor incorrigibly 
every-day. Although every incident of their story be- 
gan with a hearty fight, this merely served to clear the 
air comfortably, and one appreciates that a real and in- 
extinguishable attachment united them. Their funny 
conversations delighted the other builders, and it was a 
gay band that worked at that mosque. Whether it is 
really true that the work did not progress as a result of 
their presence, or whether their sallies were of the kind 
which make the powerful uneasy, we cannot now ascer- 
tain; but anyhow their conduct was unfavorably re- 

136 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

ported to the sultan, and he ordered their heads cut off. 
It is not indeed their actual words that since those days 
have constantly attacked the great in veiled and humor- 
ous language; it is something of their spirit that has 
lived on and has continued to attack, not only social 
weaknesses, but political deficiencies, in the same irre- 
pressible manner. Karageuz, after his death, became 
something like a popular saint, and people light candles 
at his grave to this day in Broussa. As in the orta 
oyoun, a review of the different nationalities and their 
peculiarities, as well as a caricature of all social types, 
appears, though in coarser and cruder language, in 
"Karageuz." Karageuz and Haji Eivad are deeply 
symbolic characters to me. Haji Eivad is a caricature 
of the Turkish intellectual class, while Karageuz is de- 
lightfully typical of the simple Turk, always badly 
treated, beaten, his apparent stupidity mocked at and 
taken advantage of, forever in such desperate situations 
that one is sure he will be done for, yet extricating him- 
self somehow, or beginning all over again. I have often 
cried as a child when I have seen him beaten by the 
cruel eunuch, the drunkard, or the Albanian, sentenced 
to death by torture, and yet, lo and behold! by some 
subtle means there he always was in the end intact, safe 
— and his enemies, the cruel rulers, in ridiculous posi- 
tions. 

Even the Jew, who is always represented as in per- 
petual fear of everybody else, becomes a pefect bully 
toward Karageuz. There is a Bairam scene, in which 
Karageuz has erected a swing for children, and a Jew 

137 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

comes along and asks to be swung. "Now swing me," 
he says. But as soon as Karageuz begins to swing him 
he screams and beats Karageuz for his stupidity. Then, 
he calls out again, "Don't swing me," and Karageuz 
obediently stops the swing. Again he is beaten by the 
Jew for his stupidity. After a long scene of beating 
and quarreling, the Jew explains, "When I say, 'Swing,' 
don't swing; and when I say, 'Don't swing,' swing." 
The sentence has become proverbial of the Jews, and is 
used for any one else who has the characteristic of liking 
to give trouble to people. 

His wife and his son are the only persons who beat 
Karageuz on his own ground. The little street boy who 
comes in as his son makes the children wild with de- 
light. He always catches Karageuz in his mischievous 
escapades. There is a favorite scene when Karageuz 
has climbed up on the dome of a bath to steal the towels 
hung round it. The son appears at the critical moment 
and takes away the ladder. A brilliant conversation 
follows, until the son manages to get whatever he wants 
from his father, usually a few piasters to buy walnuts. 

As a stage performance "Karageuz" is now in a de- 
cadent state. The simple but famous artists who used 
these two characters in ever new and yet ever character- 
istic scenes are all dead. Yet Karageuz's spirit lives. 
The humorous paper published in 1908 under his name 
continues to have a great circulation all over the country, 
especially in Anatolia. It is really the Turkish 
"Punch." 

Another childish amusement was the Punch and Judy 

138 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

show, which we called the Dolls. A man went around 
the streets and, putting up the simple stage, made the 
dolls act the unique piece. It must be of Byzantine 
origin I believe, for it is acted both in Greek and Turk- 
ish, but always there is a Greek priest and a Greek 
funeral. 

In contrast with the foregoing, which may be classed 
as traditional or folk literature, there is very little 
humor in the early written literature of the Turks. It 
is usually of the nature of rather heavy satire (some- 
times of an obscene kind) and contains a great deal of 
very bitter irony. One feels in reading it a contraction 
of mind, a perpetual tone of hatred, combined with, or 
perhaps indeed rising out of, a sense of helplessness in 
the spirits of the old writers themselves. The more ex- 
aggerated and bitter, even foul-mouthed, they are in 
writing of their enemies, the happier they appear to feel. 
It is this glaring difference between the satiric wit of the 
literary men and the innate humor of the people which 
makes me see humor as an internal expansion and a 
healthy, sometimes even a tender, thing; while satires 
of really important writers seem more like a nervous 
paralysis, which ultimately cripples the mind and the 
sympathies. But we cannot be surprised, even though 
we may condemn this morbid tendency toward bitter- 
ness, for every person who gave signs of the slightest 
power of criticism or originality was exposed to un- 
scrupulous extermination, or at best to continual op- 
pression. Every great poet had to have some great 
protector, and it was hard to please the great without 

139 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

incurring danger from some opposite quarter. A satire 
was wanted for a rival, but who could tell how soon those 
rivals might not be holding the lives of the writers in 
their hands? As an instance of this insecurity, I may 
refer to Nefi. He was one of the four greatest of our 
early poets and belongs to the seventeenth century. 
He was protected by Murad IV, the crudest but the 
most powerful of all our sultans. One can imagine 
Nefi, of all men, feeling pretty safe. He was the writer 
of the most famous kasside 9 in Turkish, praising all the 
greatest men of his time, while describing his sovereign's 
wars in glowing colors in other poems. With an arro- 
gant pride in his art, however, he allowed himself to 
praise equally his own talents and artistic achievements, 
ranking himself as incomparably superior to every other 
human being. His satiric vein led him on to attack 
Bairam Pasha, the powerful vizir. The sultan evi- 
dently encouraged him to the extent of hearing him read 
these satires, but nevertheless advised him not to in- 
dulge in any more of them. Sometime later, at a mo- 
ment when he was high in favor, Bairam Pasha procured 
from the sultan a sentence of death on his critic. Nefi 
was imprisoned in the wood-houses of the Sublime Porte, 
strangled, and his body thrown into the sea in a sack. 
Not even a grave notes the memory of the man who cre- 
ated so many beautiful things. Another story is told 
illustrating his disdainful temper. When he was lying 
in the Sublime Porte the head eunuch saw and pitied 
him. Calling him in, he inquired into Nefi's circum- 

9 A poetic eulogy of a sultan or other great man. 

140 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

stances, and himself wrote a petition to the sultan asking 
for pardon. Nefi's satiric vein got the better of him 
as he saw the good negro writing and dropping his ink 
clumsily on the paper. "The aga is feeling hot," he 
said. "I see the drops falling on the paper from his 
forehead." The insult doubtless made the eunuch re- 
gret his intervention, and he left Nefi to his fate. 

One may not condone Xefi, but one can see that this 
sort of treatment of poets did not encourage humor 
among the intellectuals. But the people, further away 
from the court, passed their delicious stories from 
mouth to mouth, unnoticed and safe. 

At this period of my life it seems to me I was hardly 
aware of the activities of the grown-ups at home. My 
life was centered in my story books, the outside world, 
my lessons, and Ahmed Aga, when a sudden event 
startled me and made me feel intensely my family cir- 
cumstances. 

One incident might have suggested to me the possibil- 
ity of the event, if I had been a few years older. Te'ize 
read me a letter in her room one morning. It was a 
polite and formal demand of marriage. As I was ac- 
customed to seeing girls marry before they were twenty 
and had been fed up on stories of child marriages, I 
never connected Teize with this very youthful phase of 
life — as I always regarded it. I was a little stupefied 
and did not make out the reason of her reading it. In 
some dim way I felt that she was expecting something 
of me, but I sat and stared stupidly till she said, "If I 

141 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

marry I go away of course." Then I realized that it 
was my personal calamity she was announcing, and all 
of a sudden I began to cry quietly and helplessly. 
Granny suddenly appeared and scolded Te'ize, so far as 
it was in her to scold any one, for reading such a letter 
to me. The incident evidently affected me more than it 
was in me to express, for Granny told me much later 
that afterward I developed a habit of walking and talk- 
ing in my sleep which made her very anxious, and we 
paid a visit to Arzie Hanum. She had a regular con- 
sultation with the peris, breathed some prayers over my 
head, burned some pungent things in her silver bowl, and 
made me inhale some smoke. 

She said I was troubled in the spirit and probably 
had the evil eye, and that I must not be pressed with 
much study. Every evening before I slept granny sat 
by my bed and made me say the two sures of the Koran, 
and in addition I repeated after her: "I lie on my right 
and turn to my left. Let angels witness my faith. 
There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his 
Prophet." I must confess that these simple words 
soothed me to a curious degree. 

One day soon after, Abla went to spend a week with 
some old lady friends in Beshiktash, and in her absence 
father married Teize. I cannot say that the event 
either pleased or comforted me, although there was no 
longer the danger of her leaving me. 

The event was received coldly by the household, and 
with the marriage ceremony there settled upon the 
hitherto serene atmosphere of the house an oppressive 

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OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

feeling, a feeling of uneasiness and wonder at the pos- 
sibility of unpleasant consequences, which never left it 
again. Sympathy and pity, as well as conjectures as 
to how Abla would receive the news, filled all our 
minds, and I fancy a rather violent scene was expected. 
If there is an ecstasy and excitement in times of suc- 
cess, there is a deeper feeling of being singled out for 
importance when a great and recognized misfortune 
overtakes one. When a woman suffers because of her 
husband's secret love-affairs, the pain may be keen, but 
its quality is different. When a second wife enters her 
home and usurps half her power, she is a public martyr 
and feels herself an object of curiosity and pity. How- 
ever humiliating this may be, the position gives a 
woman in this case an unquestioned prominence and 
isolation. So must Abla have felt now. The entire 
household was excited at her return. As she walked 
up-stairs and entered the sitting-room, she found only 
Teize standing in the middle of it. But the rest must 
have been somewhere in the corridors, for every one wit- 
nessed the simple scene of their encounter. Teize was 
the more miserable of the two. She was crying. Abla, 
who had somehow learned what awaited her home- 
coming while she was still away, walked up to her and 
kissed her, saying, "Xever mind; it was Kismet." 
Then she walked away to her own room while her serv- 
ant Jemile wept aloud in the hall. Hava Hanum, 
whose heart was with Abla, probably because of her own 
past experience, scolded Jemile: "Is it thy husband or 
thy lady's who was married? What is it to thee?" 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Although this dramatic introduction to polygamy 
may seem to promise the sugared life of harems pictured 
in the "Haremlik" 10 of Mrs. Kenneth Brown, it was not 
so in the least. I have heard polygamy discussed as a 
future possibility in Europe in recent years by sincere 
and intellectual people of both sexes. "As there is in- 
formal polygamy and man is polygamous by nature, 
why not have the sanction of the law?" they say. 

Whatever theories people may hold as to what should 
or should not be the ideal tendencies as regards the 
family constitution, there remains one irrefutable fact 
about the human heart, to whichever sex it may belong. 
It is almost organic in us to suffer when we have to 
share the object of our love, whether that love be sexual 
or otherwise. I believe indeed that there are as many 
degrees and forms of jealousy as there are degrees and 
forms of human affection. But even supposing that 
time and education are able to tone down this very ele- 
mental feeling, the family problem will still not be 
solved ; for the family is the primary unit of human so- 
ciety, and it is the integrity of this smallest division 
which is, as a matter of fact, in question. The nature 
and consequences of the suffering of a wife, who in the 

10 The word haremlik does not exist in Turkish. It is an invented form, 
no doubt due to a mistaken idea that "selamlik" (literally, the place for 
salutations or greeting, i. e., the reception-room, and therefore, among 
Moslems, the men's apartments) could have a corresponding feminine form, 
which would be "haremlik." The word is, however, a verbal monstrosity. 
"Harem" is an Arabic word with the original sense of a shrine, a secluded 
place (cf. Harem sherif, the Holy of Holies in the Kaaba at Mecca). 
Hence it came to be identified with the seclusion of women, either by means 
of the veil or by confinement in separate apartments; and hence again it 
came to be used for those apartments themselves. 

144 




Ph 

w 

H 

'A 

< 
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OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

same house shares a husband lawfully with a second and 
equal partner, differs both in kind and in degree from 
that of the woman who shares him with a temporary 
mistress. In the former case, it must also be borne in 
mind, the suffering extends to two very often consider- 
able groups of people — children, servants, and relations 
— two whole groups whose interests are from the very 
nature of the case more or less antagonistic, and who are 
living in a destructive atmosphere of mutual distrust and 
a struggle for supremacy. 

On my own childhood, polygamy and its results pro- 
duced a very ugly and distressing impression. The con- 
stant tension in our home made every simple family 
ceremony seem like a physical pain, and the conscious- 
ness of it hardly ever left me. 

The rooms of the wives were opposite each other, 
and my father visited them by turns. When it was 
Teize's turn every one in the house showed a tender 
sympathy to Abla, while when it was her turn no one 
heeded the obvious grief of Teize. It was she indeed 
who could conceal her suffering least. She would leave 
the table with eyes full of tears, and one could be sure 
of finding her in her room either crying or fainting. 
Very soon I noticed that father left her alone with her 
grief. 

And father too was suffering in more than one way. 
As a man of liberal and modern ideas, his marriage was 
very unfavorably regarded by his friends, especially by 
Hakky Bey, to whose opinion he attached the greatest 
importance. 

145 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

He suffered again from the consciousness of having 
deceived Abla. He had married her when she was a 
mere girl, and it now looked as if he had taken advantage 
of her youth and inexperience. One saw as time went 
on how patiently and penitently he was trying to make 
up to her for what he had done. 

Among the household too he felt that he had fallen 
in general esteem, and he cast about for some justifica- 
tion of his conduct which would reinstate him. "It was 
for Halide that I married her," he used to say. "If 
Teize had married another man Halide would have 
died." And, "It is for the child's sake I have married 
her father," Teize used to say. "She would have died 
if I had married any one else." Granny took the sen- 
sible view. "They wanted to marry each other. What 
has a little girl to do with their marriage?" 

The unhappiness even manifested itself in the rela- 
tion between granny and Hava Hanum. The latter 
criticized granny severely for not having put a stop to it 
before things had gone too far, and granny felt indig- 
nant to have the blame thrown upon her by a depend- 
ent for an affair she so intensely disliked. 

Teize, with her superior show of learning and her in- 
tellectual character, must have dominated father at 
first, but with closer contact, the pedantic turn of her 
mind, which gave her talk a constant didactic tone, must 
have wearied him. For in the intimate companionship 
of every-day life nothing bores one more than a pre- 
tentious style of talk involving constant intellectual 
effort. Poor Teize's erudition and intelligence were her 

146 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

outstanding qualities, and she used and abused them to 
a maddening degree. When, after her dull and lonely 
life, she gave herself, heart and soul, to a man, the dis- 
illusionment of finding herself once more uncared for 
rendered her very bitter; and she either talked contin- 
ually of her personal pain or else of some high topic, 
too difficult to be understood by the person she was talk- 
ing to. Somehow her efforts to dethrone her rival 
from the heart of her husband lacked the instinctive ca- 
pacity of the younger woman's, and it was only granny 
and poor me that sympathized and suffered with her in 
a grief which did not interest any one else. 

The wives never quarreled, and they were always ex- 
ternally polite, but one felt a deep and mutual hatred 
accumulating in their hearts, to which they gave vent 
only when each was alone with father. He wore the 
look of a man who was getting more than his just pun- 
ishment now. Finally he took to having a separate 
room, where he usuallv sat alone. But he could not 
escape the gathering storm in his new life. Hava 
Hanum not inaptly likened his marriage to that of Nas- 
sireddin Hodja. She told it to us as if she was glad to 
see father unhappy. The hodja also wanted to taste the 
blessed state of polygamy, and took to himself a young 
second wife. Before many months were out his friends 
found the hodja completely bald, and asked him the rea- 
son. "My old wife pulls out all my black hairs so that 
I may look as old as she; my young wife pulls out my 
white hairs so that I may look as young as she. Be- 
tween them I am bald." 

147 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

The final storm, kept in check for some time by the 
good-mannered self-control of the ladies, broke out in 
the servants' quarter. Fikriyar and Jemile were al- 
ways running down each other's mistresses. Fikriyar 
called Abla common and ignorant, and Jemile called 
Teize old and ugly. "Besides, she is a thief of other 
women's husbands," she added. One day the quarrel 
grew so distracting that the ladies had to interfere, 
and for the first time they exchanged bitter words. 
That evening father went up to Abla's room first, and 
he did not come down to dinner. The next morning 
it was announced that father was going with Abla and 
her little girls to Beshiktash to the wisteria-covered 
house, and we, the rest of the composite family, were 
to take a house near the college, 11 and my education was 
to begin seriously. 

It was in 1893 or 1894 that I went to the college for 
the first time. I was perhaps the youngest student, and 
my age had to be considerably padded in order to get 
me in; and no amount of persuasion was available to 
have me taken as a boarder, so that father's plan to re- 
move me from the influence of "that woman" as he now 
called Teize had to be postponed. 

My impressions of the college at this time are rather 
vague. I learned English fast enough, but my pleasure 
in the new language only began when I could read in 

11 The American College for Girls as it was then called; an institution 
founded by American missionaries for educating girls in the Orient. It is 
now represented by the Constantinople College for Girls, but it is no longer 
connected with any missionary societies. It was at first housed in an old 
picturesque Armenian house in Scutari. 

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OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

the original the childish stories chosen for me by Woods 
Pasha, a fine English gentleman in the service of the 
Turkish navy, and a very good friend of father's. 

I made no friends, but a big and beautiful Turkish 
girl called Gul Faris used to speak to me sometimes. 
Miss Fensham became a little interested in me also, and, 
knowing Turkish, she used to take me up to her room 
and help me in my translations. Miss Dodd was an- 
other good friend. She generously offered to teach me 
at home when a year later I had to leave the college in 
obedience to an imperial irade. 12 

Ahmed Aga and Teize objected to certain points of 
my English education, and this caused me some trouble. 
Ahmed Aga regularly took out the eyes from all the 
pictures in my reading book. He said it was sinful to 
make pictures of man, who is created in the image of 
Allah. When I asked him why he did not mind the 
pictures in the Turkish story-books he said: 'Those 
are not like men. But look at these; they are as good 
as created, and if they did not lack tongues they would 
speak to one." 

Teize was horrified at the sight of the Bible. 'Thou 
wilt become a Christian before thou art aware of it," 
she said. I could have been made into neither a Chris- 
tian nor anything else by the verses from the Psalms I 
had to learn by heart. I did not understand their mean- 
ing in the least, and the Old Testament stories the 
teacher told us about David and his time sounded to me 

12 An iradd was an order made by the sultan having the force of law. 
It could be made, as in this case, to have reference to a single individual. 

149 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

so like Battal Gazi stories that I did not associate them 
with anything religious. It was not therefore on the 
score of orthodoxy that I was troubled, but by some- 
thing quite different. I soon found that every new 
Bible disappeared mysteriously as soon as I brought it 
home; and I despaired. Without a Bible I could not 
learn my verses by heart, although I managed to re- 
member the longer stories told by the teacher. I was 
too timid to ask any of the girls to lend me her Bible, and 
I had no special friend, as all the girls were considerably 
older than myself. I bought three Bibles from the col- 
lege book-room with my own money, but had I bought a 
Bible daily it would have disappeared. I hated being 
scolded at school, and this continual struggle at home 
about the Bible embittered my life during my first year 
at the college, although I did not speak of it to any one. 
Mahmoure Abla teased me mercilessly about the Bible 
too. "Thou art a Christian and thou wilt burn in hell," 
she would say. Hava Hanum consoled me : "All chil- 
dren are Moslem-born, and till they are nine years old 
they go straight to heaven if they die, whatever they 
are," she said. But the old horrors of "The Adventure 
of Death" were awakened in me in addition to the 
trouble of not being able to get a Bible, which sounds 
funny perhaps now but was very tragic then. 

A big and very stupid Jewish girl was in the same 
class with me. She had been in the college for some 
years but had not yet learned enough to talk English. 
Her stupidity was proverbial. Her eyes opened with 
fear and wonder at any one who addressed her. She 

150 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

seemed always to be expecting a blow or some sort of 
assault and appeared as if she were wondering when it 
would be delivered. I believe it was the unconscious 
mark of a persecuted race. Strangely enough, when 
the great persecution and break-up of Turkey began 
after the Armistice of 1918, I remembered that look and 
wondered in horror whether the Turkish race would 
come to have it too and how many years it would take 
to give the proud face of the Turk that piteous aspect. 

One day the teacher asked me to help this girl to learn 
her verses by heart. This gave me a sudden hope. I 
would learn from her Bible. But to my dismay I found 
that she was in the same position as I and had the self- 
same domestic troubles. "I know I shall go to hell, 
and that makes me very miserable; and the people at 
home who take my Bible away make it worse," she said. 
But she was slightly better off than I was. The teacher, 
taking her stupidity as an excuse for the loss of her 
Bibles, wrote out on a paper the sentences that she was 
to learn. 

About this time Tei'ze had a little daughter and left 
me in peace about the Bible for a while. The baby had 
convulsions, which brought into relief the real diver- 
gence of opinion about treatment of diseases between 
granny and father. Convulsions were caused by peris, 
according to Arzie Hanum. Father insisted on a doc- 
tor. Arzie Hanum's intelligent attitude toward doctors 
saved the situation. She strongly recommended the 
ladies to have a doctor in addition to her own remedies. 

We had a jolly winter. The Christian quarter, where 

151 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

we lived, had a gay carnival, very bourgeois but very 
hearty. If I had not had bad dreams like Hamlet, if 
I had not seen Te'ize getting more and more miserable 
because of the increasing supremacy of her rival, if I 
had not had the beginning of chaotic doubts about re- 
ligion, I should have been happy. For the reading of 
the Turkish stories was still going on, and we had besides 
the Turkish theater opposite our house. It was Has- 
san who was the chief actor then, a successor to Abdi 
and almost equally popular. I gave my daily money 
to Ahmed Aga to save for Sundays, when we went off 
together to the theater. Hassan was a tall slender man 
and had very brilliant eyes, black and smiling, with a 
strange oblique look in the corners. He played and 
danced and did the part of the stupid servant. His very 
walk, as well as his speeches, brought the house down. 
It was a series of roars. He was indeed the last famous 
comedian of the old Turkish theater. They used to 
play the stories I read in the old yellow Persian-printed 
books. The lady star, Perouse Hanum, an Armenian 
who was said to be sixty years old at that time, was 
especially admired for her dancing. Her popularity 
was almost equal to Hassan's, and I believe her imita- 
tion of a drunken man and her duets with Hassan were 
sometimes quite realistic. 

I used to see a dried-up old man at the door of the 
theater. He wore blue beads on his fez against the 
evil eye, and there was an expression of beatitude on 
his face. Perouse Hanum bought him simids (rolls) 
and gave him money as she left the theater and entered 

152 



OUR VARIOUS HOMES IN SCUTARI 

her carriage in state. Ahmed Aga's explanation of this 
proceeding was that she had eaten his money and burned 
his heart and thus reduced him to this state. "He was 
not her only victim," he would add, "thanks to her lovely 
eyes." Her eyes after this made me very uneasy. I 
imagined her literally burning people's hearts with fire 
which she held with tongs, and eating, even chewing, 
their gold with her white teeth. 

Father came to see us once a week, but sometimes 
he could not come, and then he sent his groom to take 
me over to Beshiktash, where I spent the night. These 
visits made me miserable. Teize did not like me to go, 
fearing the influence of the other woman; and I felt 
an atmosphere, if not cold, at least unwelcoming. At 
my return home I was exposed to a cross-examination, 
and it cost me a great deal to sit and keep my mouth 
shut. Anything belonging to Beshiktash, such as a 
handkerchief of father's, made Teize swoon with hys- 
teria. She declared it to be bewitched; she imagined 
Abla and her mother going from one hodja to another 
to get charms for father and charms to destroy herself. 
The same sort of belief prevailed at Abla's house. She 
would also become hysterical at the sight of a handker- 
chief or a shirt given to father by Teize and would tear 
it to pieces at once. 

I was now obliged to leave the college. Abdul 
Hamid did not want Turks to send their children to 
foreign schools. He feared that somehow liberal ideas 
might be learned later. "They can have governesses," 
he used to say. So as there was no more reason to stay 

153 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

near the college, this time we began to look for a house 
in a Turkish quarter. Granny soon found one in the 
Grande Rue of Scutari — one of those old-fashioned 
houses with the same sort of space and garden that she 
always chose — and we moved on there. 

The invisible struggle between granny, Teize, and 
father ended now in father's complete triumph. One 
day granny told me that I was to go and live with father 
in Beshiktash. I said nothing, but the idea of their 
giving me up so easily to the other house broke some- 
thing in my heart. My only consolation was that 
Ahmed Aga was leaving us to go back to his own 
country. 

Granny had made me a red charshaf which I used al- 
ready to wear sometimes; but I used often to take it 
off in the middle of the street and give it to Ahmed Aga 
to carry. Dressed in this and with a valise containing 
my little wardrobe, I started with granny to the steamer 
for Beshiktash. We walked up from the landing- 
station together, but granny never entered the wisteria- 
covered house, both on account of her own past sorrow 
and the presence there of Abla. Just before we reached 
it she left me with an old neighbor, and as she walked 
away with intense sadness on her big white face I felt 
lonely and abandoned beyond expression. Kept from 
tears only by a pride that would not give way, I went 
into the wisteria-covered house, with the old lady and her 
servant carrying my belongings. 



154 



CHAPTER IV 

THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

THE large hall and the double stairs no longer 
had the same charming light of the old days. 
The house looked entirely different. Granny's 
room no longer had that pleasant white-covered divan; 
it was Abla's room and had European furniture. 

The whole thing brought back my first visit to Abla 
when she had just married father. Most of her family 
were there, and I had the feeling of being a stranger 
whose face and manners are being closely watched. I 
did not particularly belong to anybody in the house; no 
one was interested in what I did, and no one would give 
me that individual attention which Teize had lavished 
upon me. In a dim way I felt that the house would be 
suspicious of me and I should be left alone as little as 
possible with my father. The house would suspect me 
of influencing father in Te'ize's favor. 

Father himself was as joyful as a boy when he saw 
me ; and he ran up-stairs with me to show the rooms he 
had had specially prepared for me. Te'ize's old room 
was turned into a study-room, with a large writing-table, 
nice English arm-chairs, and a rocking-chair which 
charmed me most of all ; while Uncle Kemal's room was 
to be my bedroom. I remember the brown bed-curtains 

*t ft* Pf 

loo 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

which I used to draw and sit inside of whenever I felt 
out of sorts. There I felt as secluded from the outside 
world as a nun in a nunnery. Father had given much 
thought and personal care to the furnishing of the rooms. 
And I felt comforted and assured that after all he was 
a familiar and loving figure in this strange atmosphere ; 
so I hugged him fast and tried hard to gulp down the 
foolish tears which threatened me so often in coming 
back to the old place. 

I slept alone in a room for the first time in my life 
that night, and gazing at the night-light which always 
reminded me somehow of Queen Victoria's profile, I 
wondered about the kind of life I was going to have in 
this house. I was to begin Arabic lessons the next day. 
A well known clerical official called Shukri Effendi had 
invented a new system for teaching Arabic grammar, 
and he was going to try his system on me. I should 
soon understand the meaning of the Koran, I said to 
myself, and I should be able to pray in the right way. 
I thought of granny's caution: "That woman does not 
pray at all ; no one is religious in the proper way among 
those people. Do not forget to say thy sures at night 
before thou goest to sleep." The sures were from 
Al Falaq, and as my Arabic lessons went on I began to 
realize the beauty of the words, which till now had been 
nothing but soothing sounds: 

Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of Dawn, 
From the evil of the utterly dark night when it comes, 
And from the evil of those who cast wicked suggestions on 
firm resolutions. . . . 

156 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

I remember falling asleep at last while imagining the 
letters I meant to write to Teize. 

The next morning I missed Teize very much. There 
was no one to help me dress, no one to comb my hair. I 
was at that rather ugly stage of a child's development 
when the features seem exaggerated into sharp edges; 
and as I looked into the glass, I felt the full weight of 
this disadvantage. The beauty of the blue-eyed people 
down-stairs, who had criticized my looks so cruelly years 
ago, frightened and humiliated me as if it had all hap- 
pened only yesterday. My sense of ugliness over- 
whelmed me. I was so clumsy with my hair, which was 
much thicker than I liked, that I remember cutting 
pieces off to try to improve matters. The memory of 
my helplessness at that time impressed itself upon me 
enough to make me insist on my own boys' doing their 
dressing for themselves when they were hardly more 
than babies. 

Abla's niece Feizie, a large blonde girl, gradually 
grew into something like a playmate, and I took to play- 
ing dolls with her whenever I got the time from books 
and lessons. I avoided appearing before Abla's visitors 
as much as I could, my timidity being doubled by the 
sense of my personal plainness, which soon amounted 
almost to torture. 

My Arabic teacher was an elderly gentleman with an 
enormous white turban and a gray beard. His system 
proved excellent, and I soon got to understand my 
Koran. But this had an unpleasant side to it. He 
often asked strange gentlemen, Arabic scholars, to come 

157 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and listen to our lessons. He wanted to prove the 
efficiency of his system. Fortunately I was not very 
self-conscious with men; they did not notice one's looks 
as women did. Shukri EfTendi approved of my pious 
spirit, and after each lesson he gave me a talk on the 
holiness and beauty of Islamism. Islamism taught by 
an orthodox person is very clear and full of common 
sense, but like everything very orthodox it lacked a cer- 
tain mystic emotion, and this led me to long as I grew 
older for the mystic tendencies of the dissenting spirit 
of the tekkes. 1 I learned enough from my teacher, 
however, to make me fairly correct in my daily ablutions 
and daily prayers. Every Thursday and Monday 
afternoon I used to sit in my room and chant Yasin 2 for 
the souls of the dead. The large hall, with the five 
rooms opening off it where my own rooms happened to 
be, was entirely deserted except for myself, and my voice 
had a way of resounding to its furthest corners, like 
a strange and searching call for the years that were gone. 
Abla and her family had a close and intimate home 
life of their own which was like a door closed in my face ; 
and I felt keenly the fact of being excluded and alone. 
This threw me more than ever to my own internal re- 
sources and thoughts, which at that time had a deeply 
religious side to them. The need of some internal sup- 

1 Tekkis are Moslem institutions, something of the character of Christian 
monasteries. The dervishes who are the members of them are dis- 
tinguished not only for great religious fervor but also for non-orthodox 
mystical tendencies. 

2 Yasin is the name of the chapter in the Koran which is chanted for 
the souls of the dead. 

158 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

port and sympathy, as well as the development of my 
intellect and reason, groping as they were for the mean- 
ing of things which seemed so far enigmatic, awakened 
in me an intense soul life. I did a great deal of rather 
precocious thinking at this period. Hamdi Effendi, of 
whom I will speak later, intensified this feeling by his 
constant philosophical and mystical conversations. I 
knew no other way of thinking out the puzzling signifi- 
cance of life which was thus dawning on me, except by 
calling to my aid the religious dogmas which I was being 
taught. I performed my obligatory Arabic prayers 
very carefully at the set times, but after each one I had 
a Turkish prayer, almost a talk, with Allah. I asked 
him mostly questions about the reasons which control 
men's cruel acts and thoughts, and about the position of 
the non-Moslems, which seemed to me the primary in- 
justice of my religion. Why not the same measure of 
goodness and holiness for every one? I have found to 
my dismay, after a rather complete experience, that no 
doctrine, religious or otherwise, includes humanity in 
the sense my childish faith and longing required. 

It was perhaps my objection to the exclusiveness of 
orthodox Islamism which made me love the simple and 
beautiful birth poem of Mohammed by an early 
sixteenth-century poet of the mystic order of the 
Mevlevi- Suleiman Dede. He too must have suffered 
from the narrowness which shuts the doors of heaven on 
some people, to attribute to the baby Mohammed the 
sublime pity and universality of love. He makes 
Emine, the mother of Mohammed, describe the child, 

159 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

when only a few minutes old, as having its little face 
turned to the wall, its eyes full of tears, mourning and 
praying for the low and sinful who were destined to 
eternal fire. 

The old lady's house, where granny had left me on 
the day of my arrival at the wisteria-covered house, be- 
came a refuge for me whenever I wanted to escape/ both 
from the unnatural tension of my inner self and from 
the uncongenial atmosphere of my home. Peyker 
Hanum herself was from the palace like Teize and had 
been the chief acrobat in Sultan Aziz's Music and The- 
ater Department. A strong healthy dark woman with 
a heart and tongue of incredible frankness, she was al- 
most adored by her friends. Her acrobatic feats in the 
palace were legends of marvel. She must have had 
great musical talent as well, for she played on the piano 
very beautifully, turning without pause from one opera 
to another, mostly Verdi and Bellini. Her best per- 
formance I thought was "Carmen." I cannot say 
whether it was my extreme impressionability at the time, 
but it still seems to me that I have never heard "Car- 
men" played by any one else with the same go and rhyth- 
mical charm. All this was by ear, for she could not read 
a note. 

Besides these attractive qualities she dared to be her- 
self among the chains of conventions and the social tyr- 
anny of the time, keeping a just measure and avoiding 
too much gossip. She received her husband's men 
friends with him, and could talk on all subjects with 
intuitive and intelligent understanding. In fact she 

160 




Alexandre Pankoff 



ISTAMBOUL 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

had something of the man in her, although she was a 
very capable housekeeper. Her youth, which had been 
passed in lifting tremendous weights, had given her, 
with her great physical strength, something of the frank 
charm of one of the powerful things of nature. 

Her husband Hamdi Effendi, whom I have already 
mentioned, was one of the many old men friends of 
my childhood. He had a mystical mind and called him- 
self a pantheist. He loved music when his wife played, 
and he talked of pantheism to me, interpreting all hu- 
man and natural phenomena by it. His talk soothed 
and somewhat interested me for a long time, but the 
moment came when I used to lose all sense of who is who 
and what is what, and I saw Allah, the familiar objects, 
chairs and tables, trees and water, the universe, and all 
the rest of us in a hopeless jumble. 

Hamdi Bey and Peyker Hanum's house had a clean 
comfortable Turkish air, and rather clever people fre- 
quented it. Hamdi Effendi had been the personal 
friend of some of the early martyrs of liberty and spoke 
from personal knowledge of their lives in prison and un- 
der torture. I got my early notions of liberty in his 
humble salon and learned that the powerful sultan in 
Yildiz was a hated despot, destroying all who try to 
give happiness and freedom to the Turkish people. 

The old couple had a stalwart son in the military 
school, and the house on Fridays was full of young 
men in uniform. As young men appeared to me to be 
very much of a repetition of the hateful little boys, I 
kept out of the house on those days. 

161 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

A certain Saffet Effendi, an Albanian student, lived 
in their house in the vacations. He was considered very 
clever, and I believe he helped a great many young stu- 
dents with their work. I think of him now especially, 
for Saffet Effendi was executed by the Revolutionary 
Tribunal. 

My little sister Neiliifer was working her way slowly 
into my heart. After her pretty and short babyhood 
she was in a way put aside with the arrival of the other 
little sister Nighiar. Her mother was entirely taken up 
with the younger child and left Neiliifer in the hands of 
the servants or of the great-grandmother. Neiliifer 
began to look like a neglected stepdaughter and was 
developing very unpleasant habits. I remember her 
biting people if she got into a rage, and tearing her own 
hair from over her temples, which made her look very 
strange. Her white face, with deep gray eyes under 
dark and straight eyebrows, carried the menace of a 
perpetual storm. I found her gradually coming to my 
room and leaning against my table, watching me keenly 
at my work, till unconsciously she became an inmate of 
my room. I cannot trace the proceedings which 
brought her little bed beside my own, but till I went for 
the second time to college in 1899 we slept together, and 
she became a second Nut-rat, but infinitely more loved 
and cherished. 

My first visit to Scutari was a great event. The 
whole household there had made great preparation to 
receive me with joy and festivities. There was an as- 

162 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

tonishing quantity of sweet dishes, and every one ex- 
amined me carefully as if I had come from a long voy- 
age. Tei'ze said that my hair was badly combed and 
that I looked thin, which was true, but the poor thing 
herself seemed more miserable than when I left. 

It was during this visit that the great earthquake of 
1895 took place in Constantinople. I was in Te'ize's 
room, absorbed in some talk of hers, when the mirrors 
and lamps began to shake. Knowing nothing about 
earthquakes I did not understand at first what it was, 
but I saw her crouch down in terror and her lips move 
in prayer. A tremendous underground sound and a 
sudden stampeding noise in the street made me run to 
the window. There on the Grande Rue of Scutari 
people were flying panic-stricken in a cloud of dust. I 
saw shopkeepers joining the crowd, as well as half -naked 
men with bath-towels around their loins and wooden 
clogs on their feet, coming from the street opposite, 
where there was a big public bath. Their clogs gave a 
certain character to the noise of the stampeding crowd, 
while a muffled groan rose at times: "Allah, Allah." 

"Come down quick," called granny, and I ran after 
her into the garden. As I jumped the last two steps 
to the ground a big wall crumbled down close by, cover- 
ing us with dust. 

Not understanding the extent of the danger we were 
in, I was rather interested in what was happening. I 
remember going to a swing which I had made for myself 
in the garden and quietly swinging there till an un- 
earthly sound of a pipe playing a tune in most discordant 

163 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

notes made my hair stand on end with terror. For 
all of a sudden a passage in "The Adventure of Death" 
came into my mind: "On the last days of the earth, 
Tejjal will rise and play on his pipe. The dead will 
leave their graves and follow him to the Judgment day." 
This therefore was Tejjal, and the earthquake was the 
sign of the last day, for it was said of the Judgment 
day in the Koran, "When the earth is shaken with shak- 
ing, the earth will cast off her burdens." 

Mahmoure Abla, who was the most terror-stricken in 
the house, had got the same idea, and running about in 
panic had discovered Hussein, our new Anatolian man- 
servant, playing on a crude pipe which he himself had 
made from a willow branch. "It is Hussein," she 
shouted to me. "Don't be afraid, Halide." 

The next morning granny read a vivid description of 
the great catastrophe in the papers. A part of the great 
bazaar, many mosques, baths, and ever so many houses 
had fallen, crushing a tremendous number of people. 
People mostly slept out of doors for the next few days, 
but we lived in the house except Mahmoure Abla, who 
wandered in and out still imagining another shock when- 
ever the boards creaked or some one walked down the 
corridor. Her case appeared serious to father, and I 
remember his bringing Dr. Mulich to examine her. 
Her face was drawn and gray. She took to praying 
more than her five times a day; and indeed there was a 
general air of repentance and extra praying in every 
household. I also became affected and hardly left my 
prayer-rug, vowing to be good and specially never to 

164 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

wear silk or grand dresses again. This penitential 
mood did not last long, for a few months later Mah- 
moure Abla got married, and the whole household had 
silk costumes to celebrate the event. 

During the marriage preparations I stayed mostly in 
Scutari. The event seemed to come at a good time, for 
it took our thoughts away from the earthquake, which 
seemed to haunt us continually. Father also came of- 
tener now and spent more evenings in Scutari. As a 
matter of fact he was as much interested in the trous- 
seau as granny and talked everything over with Mah- 
moure Abla in connection with her clothes and the 
furnishing of her rooms. The bridegroom was to come 
to our house as had been done in mother's case. 

The night before the marriage we had a little music 
for a few intimate friends who were invited to come in. 
The Gipsy Hava, who must have been the one who had 
performed for granny in her happier days, brought a 
few other Gipsy girls to play and sing. There were a 
violin, a banjo, and a tambourine. They sang, with 
the peculiar charm of Gipsy voices, the beautiful Turk- 
ish song of "My Kerchief": 

My red kerchief, my purple kerchief, wave it from garden 
to garden, but pass not from the door, O beloved: my heart 
is so sore. 

While this rather sad strain was sung by the solo voice 
an emphatic and lively refrain was given by the rest, the 
tambourine marking the rhythm tempo with its pretty 
rattle. 

165 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

She costs five thousand gold; it is dear. It won't be 
dear. Oh, take her and come; if she comes not beg her 
and come. 

Mahmoure Abla was fifteen, and in her genuinely 
Turkish bridal dress the next day she looked uncom- 
monly sweet. On her forehead, cheeks, and chin shone 
four diamond stars, very cleverly stuck on. On her 
head she had a diadem of brilliants ; long silver threads 
were mixed in her dark wavy hair, falling on both sides 
down to her knees. Her silver-embroidered veil hung 
down her back. She seemed unusually subdued as she 
kissed father's hand in public and he put round her waist 
the traditional belt. 

At my return to Beshiktash I heard of a rather excit- 
ing event. Two Abyssinian girls, one bought for Abla 
and the other for me, were shortly to arrive from Ye- 
men. And in two days arrive they did. 

Abla's was not an interesting creature, but Reshe, the 
one bought for me, was as pretty as an Abyssinian girl 
could be. As a rule I believe colored people have sad 
dispositions, but when they arrive in a foreign country 
as slaves, hardly speaking a word of its language, they 
must feel sad indeed. Granny used to say that Turkish 
chickens and Abyssinian children are the most delicate 
creatures in the world, and I thought of it as I saw 
Reshe blinking at us and looking around with what 
seemed more like fear than curiosity. 

I remember very clearly the first night of her arrival. 
As no room had been assigned to her yet, she was put 

166 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

to sleep on a floor-bed in my room. When I went up- 
stairs to my room, Neiliifer was already in bed, and the 
two little girls, one coffee-colored and the other fair, 
were staring at each other, their heads queerly raised 
up from their pillows. 

"What is it, Nelly?" I said. 

"I am afraid to be left alone with her, Halide Abla," 
she answered. "Art thou sure she is not a cannibal I" 

We were told a great many stories of cannibals, and 
their characteristics according to our information were 
two canine teeth sharper than other people's and a tail. 
I did not believe in these stories, but all the same I 
leaned over Reshe's bed and looked at her. Under the 
colored night-light she laughed nervously at my face. 
It was a strange grimace rather than a smile, and her 
white teeth shone brilliantly. She looked more like a 
black kitten showing its teeth when it is frightened and 
at bav than a child. Politeness forbade mv making fur- 
ther examination, but I told Xeiliifer that I had ex- 
amined her teeth and she was not a cannibal. My next 
recollection of Reshe is when I found her one day in my 
room executing a most extraordinary Abyssinian dance. 
Her hair, which she had evidently loosened for the 
performance, stood up on her head like bright wool; 
her eyes and teeth glistened, while she herself squatted 
on the floor, and jumped or rather hopped like a grass- 
hopper from one place to another. This quick and con- 
tinual hopping without changing the position of the 
body was wonderful, while she sang something loudly, 
something like a constantly repeated "Chouchoumbi, 

167 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

chouchoumbi" as she jumped. I immediately tried to 
do this wonderful feat too, but it was evidently designed 
only for Abyssinian knees, for I could do nothing like 
it. This happened in her joyful moods, but she had 
often melancholy moods too, when she would sit per- 
fectly still, her eyes turned to the ceiling, singing in a 
very soft tone, "Fidafanke fidafanke tashaashourour- 
ourou." I never learned what this wonderful song 
meant, for by the time she learned Turkish she had for- 
gotten her own Abyssinian. But it had indefinite pa- 
thos and longing. From it I caught a glimpse of the 
misery of her past days before she was able to tell me 
about the way she had been stolen with her little brother 
from a wonderful Abyssinian forest and made to walk 
for months under the lash of the slave-dealers. There 
was that in her song, especially in the way she sang it, 
which made one guess the dreary suffering through the 
meaningless words. Whenever the oppression and 
weariness of life settled on my heart too heavily, I used 
to ask her to come to my room and sing me that song. 
As I closed my eyes to listen, that endless "Rouroarou" 
stretched into some infinite distance, whether of the des- 
ert, of the sea, or of the heart I cannot tell. 

When Reshe learned enough Turkish to talk, it was 
most amusing to hear her impressions of the first night 
in my room. They were identical with Neilufer's. 
Some one had told her in Yemen that white people, es- 
pecially those of Constantinople, were in the habit of 
eating Abyssinians. She was accordingly waiting to 
be killed and eaten any moment. Each time she had 

168 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

seen Neiliifer's frightened face eagerly watching her, 
she had said to herself: "She is watching me to see 
when I go to sleep. If I close my ej^es she will go and 
tell the others, and they will all come and eat me up." 

It was now that she told me her heart's desire, which 
appeared simple enough to gratify. She wanted to 
dress exactly as I did. So I promised her that when 
I was grown up and married and had a house of my 
own, I would see that she should have the same dresses 
as I did, as well as a servant and a nice room to herself. 
At the same time I w T rote a "liberating paper," worded 
exactly as granny told me she had written the liberating 
papers for her slaves, so that Reshe no longer tech- 
nically belonged to me. I gave her this paper and 
told her to keep it in order to insure her freedom in 
case I died and any one else tried to sell her as if she 
were still a slave. 

She soon grew into the atmosphere of the house and 
joined us in all our childish games, enjoying them as 
much as the rest of us. 

One evening Feizie, the Anatolian servants, and I 
decided to do a horrible thing. We had been told by 
our elders that if one said a certain prayer entreating 
the aid of the cypress-tree spirits and then drew up 
forty buckets of water from a well, treasure would come 
up in the fortieth bucket. We tried it one Thursday 
evening, 3 but we did not go further than drawing up 
a very few bucketfuls. The echo of the bucket as it 

3 Thursdays and Mondays are both holy days and especially propitious 
for exceptional undertakings. 

169 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 



touched the stones in the bottom of the well was so 
strange and deep that we almost imagined all the cy- 
presses with their enormous green turbans in the neigh- 
boring cemetery marching toward the house. We ran 
up-stairs as fast as we could, and Feizie and Reshe as 
well were so terror-stricken that they passed the night 
in my room. 

Wells had their own peculiar and rather weird char- 
acteristics in those days. Each had its own secret and 
treasure. The haunted well of a certain stone konak in 
Nishantash had a story which both frightened and 
charmed me, and in the first days of my story-writing I 
wrote "The Enchanted Well" on the lines of the old 
story. I altered and added a great deal to the original, 
but I think that now I prefer the crude folk-story, which 
I will repeat here. 

"A peri man with a beautiful face dwelt in the well of 
the stone konak" ; so began the story. One of the young 
Circassian girls in the harem of the house, while draw- 
ing water from the well after midnight, saw the beau- 
tiful creature. She fell in love with it of course. After 
this she constantly wandered round the well and very 
often tried to throw herself into it. Her behavior ap- 
peared so much like a case of fairy enchantment to the 
other inmates of the house that they took her to a 
famous hodja, who was an expert in ailments of this 
kind. The hodja taught the slave-girl to repeat a cer- 
tain charm the next time the peri appeared to her. 
Late in the night, when every one was asleep, she went 
to the well again and looked in. The peri appeared 

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THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

as usual. But as she repeated the words of the charm 
which the hodja had taught her, the peri turned his 
back. What she saw was so disgusting that the girl 
was immediately cured of her love, for the male peris 
have their backs open and all their insides exposed. 
This is why they always take care only to show their 
faces to mortals whom they want to attract. But if one 
can once get them to turn their backs their charm is gone 
forever. 

There used to be wishing-wells, wells in which one 
saw one's future or any other desired thing. The most 
famous of these is the Eyoub Sultan Well. To this day 
simple people take their unmarried daughters and make 
them look into the well, where their future husbands 
may be seen. They look in this well, too, to find out 
about lost things. They are supposed to appear in the 
hands of the thief. I have heard quite sensible people 
tell queer experiences about having seen certain things 
in this well, but whether it is to be explained by the 
play of light and shadow made by the green leaves over 
it, or by autosuggestion, I cannot tell. 

The talk about father's buying a house in Sultan 
Tepe 4 coincided with a general epidemic of influenza 
which attacked every one in Beshiktash. It was only 
after Mahmoure Abla's marriage that we learned about 
the place through Youssuf Bey, her husband. It be- 
longed to some relations of his, and they wanted to sell 
it very badly. 

4 A summer resort on a hill near Scutari. 

171 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

The house was almost going to pieces, and the garden 
was so big and wild that no one cared to buy it. These 
considerations made the owners offer it at a very low 
price. It looked indeed as if the outlay for repairs 
would be considerably greater than the purchase-price. 

Father saw in its purchase the possibility, as he hoped, 
of bringing about a happier state of things for every 
member of his incompatible family. Here in this very 
spacious place there would be room to divide the house 
into two practically separate establishments on opposite 
sides. One of these was to be taken by each of the 
wives, and each could have a very large garden entirely 
to herself. 

Father hoped too that the beauty of the place would 
promote the happy development of all his children ; and 
having them near him, he would be able personally to 
see to their health and education. He actually lost his 
worried look for a time, and he talked of nothing but 
of the different plans for the alteration and repair of 
the house. This naturally made him visit Scutari of- 
tener in order to make his plans for Sultan Tepe on 
the spot. It was during one of these Scutari visits of 
father's that I was drawn for a short time very near 
to Abla. All of us, including the servants, had caught 
the influenza about the same time. As there was no 
such thing as a nurse in those days in Turkey, father, as 
the only one who was able to be on his feet, did virtually 
all the nursing. 

I was moved into father's room, and he gave me his 
own bed opposite Abla's and nursed us both together 

172 



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there, going to bed very late himself and then only on a 
sofa in another room, where he hardly got any proper 
rest. 

It was during this time, but when Abla had lost her 
fever and felt much better, that he went on one of his 
expeditions to Scutari one evening. Te'ize had just 
borne him a son, which might have been looked upon as 
a great event by a man who had so far had four daugh- 
ters. 

But I don't think it was in father to love a child more 
because it happened to be a boy. He loved all of his 
children intensely and seemed only to be fondest of 
them when they were of an age when they needed most 
his care and protection. Up to now he had been only 
paying day visits to Scutari, and this evening visit 
aroused Abla's jealousy, more especially because she 
herself had longed passionately for a son. She poured 
out her woes to me, and for hours I listened until I felt 
that I could really sympathize with her position. Then 
I realized that she had worked herself up into a perfect 
frenzy of jealousy. As a matter of fact I was very ill 
and rather feverish that night, but I understood as I 
had never done before that something which may mean 
immense pleasure to one person may cause great pain 
to another. 

Already weak and restless, Abla now seemed getting 
quite beside herself with helpless misery and she called 
me near her and began to talk almost deliriously, al- 
though I know that she had no fever. I was so touched 
by her appeal to me that in childish sympathy I gave my 

173 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

heart to her that night with eager desire to comfort and 
to love her. I remember very clearly my feeling of in- 
tense bitterness against polygamy. I saw it as a curse, 
as a poison which our unhappy household could never 
throw out of its system. 

I had been so full until now of Te'ize's suffering and 
was so constantly haunted by her face, almost fierce and 
distorted even when she was kneeling on her prayer- 
rug, and by her pale thin cheeks inundated by tears, 
that this vision had hitherto been like a barrier between 
me and Abla. Yet the one emotion of sudden pity now 
for Abla was as natural to my heart as the other. 

In her morbid condition she easily passed from jeal- 
ousy to the fear of death. As she sat up in her bed, 
the black shadows around her small blue eyes appeared 
enormous, and her cheeks were thin and hollow al- 
ready from her illness. All this added to my pity. 
"Halide," she screamed, "I want a doctor, and I want 
thy father." 

I crawled to her bed and sat on it, and she clutched 
my hands nervously. The old Turkish streets were in 
pitch-darkness and deadly still. Only the dogs barked 
now and then in some deserted corner. We had no 
man-servant, and no one could go out in the dark, but 
I promised her that I would go to Auntie Payker's with 
the first light of the morning. The pity I felt for her 
made me forget the splitting in my own head, and I held 
her hand for hours till she asked me to read to her a bit 
from the Koran. "Surely I am dying," she kept on 
saying. I took the Koran that always hung in its em- 

174 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

broidered bag on my bed and slowly chanted the Yassin 
in very low tones. The convulsive agitation of her face 
ceased, and with the slow rhythmic chant she closed her 
eyes. I remember now how the sight of her closed eye- 
lids comforted me. I crept back, dressed noiselessly, 
and walked to Auntie Payker's with the first dawn, lean- 
ing against the walls for support as I went. I had to 
wake them up, and auntie scolded me for coming out in 
the state I was in. Leaving the situation in her capable 
hands I went back, feeling puzzled and muddled about 
all the confusion in human destiny and life. 

When we eventually moved to the house in Sultan 
Tepe I regretted two things chiefly in Beshiktash: 
auntie and her husband, and Noury Bey. 

Noury Bey was a great friend of mine in childhood 
and in my early youth. Our friendship began when I 
was seven and he something like sixty. 

He was one of those who had started the Young 
Turkish movement with Namik Kemal, whom I have 
mentioned before as the greatest Turkish patriot and 
one of her best poets. They had passed their early 
life together, mostly in Paris. For some reason or 
other Abdul Hamid, after crushing Namik Kemal, had 
overlooked Noury Bey and some other less prominent 
leaders of the movement. 

His absorbing interest at this period was in art, and 
he maintained an intellectual and musical salon. He 
was in addition to this translating books on political 
economy, which seemed a subject strangely unlike his 

175 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

poetic nature. Young writers and musicians usually 
made their debut in his salon, and each could count on 
his protection and loving encouragement. He wrote 
very sweet Turkish songs himself, with a personal and 
gentle touch and charm in them all his own. Some of 
these songs are very well known, especially the one 
called "The Peasant Girl," which has been set to at least 
three tunes. Of the attempts to deal with a simple 
Turkish subject it is the one which has succeeded best, 
I believe. All the amateur lute players, violinists, and 
pianists who were then esteemed in Turkey were there, 
and the talk was on a high intellectual plane; but poli- 
tics was carefully excluded. It would not have been 
safe to do otherwise; Abdul Hamid's spies were every- 
where. 

He loved me dearly, and with his charming simplicity 
which knew no distinction of age he had crept into my 
head and heart. He was one of the few souls with 
whom I could talk freely. The first time I accompan- 
ied his violinist friends, he himself lifted me upon the 
stool and stood turning my pages. Years later he 
wanted me to sing his own songs to him, and sitting on 
a low stool near the piano, with his thin spiritual face 
and his sensitive blue eyes, he listened in rapt thought. 
Among the gray-bearded men and the grown-ups I 
was the only small inmate of his salon. However full it 
was I always had my place near him, and we enjoyed 
each other's conversation with mutual eagerness. It 
was in his salon some years later that I met Riza Tew- 
fik and finally had him as one of my numerous teachers. 

176 




THE HILT. OITOSITE OUR HOUSE IN SULTAN TEPE 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

The house in Sultan Tepe had not been repaired when 
we moved in, and it was an exquisite old place. Each 
room had eight windows and plenty of space in the good 
old style. It stood on a hill overlooking the winding 
beauty of the Bosphorus and the serpentine green hills 
with lovely towers above. The garden was a pine- 
grove and the grounds a wild daisy field. It had no 
end of fig-trees, old wells, elaborate ruins of ponds and 
cascades, now covered with a thick growth of ivy which 
denoted a time of past opulence. 

But the curse of polygamy followed us here also. I 
felt personally very uncomfortable, now that granny 
and Teize occupied the opposite side of the house I was 
living in. I naturally felt bound to visit them daily. 
Accordingly Abla and her servants made all sorts of 
difficulties for me, while the fact of my living at Abla's 
side adversely influenced granny's and Teize's attitude 
toward me. The period was nothing but a series of 
troubles and illnesses to me. The uncomfortable stage 
of growth that I was in, with the many lessons I had 
to do, besides my unhappy home conditions, made me 
pass most of my time shut up in my room, moping and 
sullen, alone with my books and piano. 

Before the year was out Teize was divorced, and she 
moved away with granny and her children to another 
house. I was in bed with the mumps and did not see 
them go, but the crying of the babies in the garden as 
they left the house gave me unbearable pain, and I 
made up my mind never to marry. I was ignorant yet 
of the force of circumstances which makes us like fragile 

177 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

leaves blown away from the trees where they looked so 
green and happy only a moment before. I had now a 
series of resident English governesses and an Italian 
music teacher, an old lady with a wonderful voice who 
had been a singer on the stage; and my plunge into 
Italian music with an Italian gave me a period of intense 
dramatic enthusiasm. 

My Arabic lessons continued with Shukri Effendi. 
It was after a lesson one day that he took up a solemn 
attitude and made me a surprising harangue. "Give 
my compliments to your mother, Halide, and repeat 
to her clearly what I am going to say now. You know 
that our holy religion allows us to marry four times." 
(I wished it did not, but I listened respectfully.) "But 
no man is allowed to remarry without substantial rea- 
sons." (They always invented one, I thought.) And 
he went on recounting all the reasons. "But the fore- 
most reason is when the wife is a cripple and cannot 
serve her husband. Now I have a crippled wife, and I 
am obliged to remarry. So I want a real lady to choose 
me another lady. I beg your mother to find me a wife. 
Tell her my message and bring me the answer." 

I began to understand why the old man was constantly 
peeping out of windows, staring at the door when it was 
half opened to catch a glimpse of the female figures in 
the corridors. Probably he had asked father and had 
been advised with the bitter experience of wisdom. I 
told Abla of Shukri Effendi's message, and she was hor- 
rified at the idea of such a holy man's doing such a thing. 
Yet the crippled condition of the wife gave him some 

178 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

justification, she thought. To my childish heart, the 
fact that she was a cripple made her something more to 
be loved and not hurt; suffering makes such a strong 
claim on simple hearts. Abla refused to have anything 
to do with the matter, but she was afraid to hurt the 
holy man, so she would not say anything definite and 
left me to manage him myself as well as I could. As 
I am more than stupid in such ambiguous positions the 
situation took away all my enjoyment of the Arabic 
lessons, for he would constantly question me as to Abla's 
views before he would let me begin to recite. 

One day a tall lady called on Abla with her little 
daughter and introduced herself as Shukri Effendi's 
wife. "I have come in person both to make your ac- 
quaintance and to show you that I am not a cripple," 
she said. "My husband is in the habit of telling all his 
friends that I am a cripple in order to get their help in 
marrying a second wife." 

Shukri Effendi never mentioned the subject of mar- 
riage again. My poor old teacher, to whom I owe so 
much, is dead, but his wife is still alive, 5 and we are very 
friendly at our rare meetings; besides her refined char- 
acter I always feel a personal gratitude to her for ap- 
pearing as she did and putting an end to my agitated 
situation. 

We had an interesting English lady as a governess. 
She was recommended by Woods Pasha and had been 
the wife of a well-to-do tea-planter in India. It was she 
who first aroused my interest in India, and she told 

5 She died in the summer of 1925. 

179 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

me all sorts of interesting personal adventures. Al- 
though she had not the teaching capacity of Miss 
Ashover, a charming English teacher I had for some 
time, she had a more personal and grown-up style of 
conversation. It flattered me a good deal to have her 
talk to me of her personal life and troubles. She used 
to teach my sisters English nursery rimes and tell child- 
ish stories in a way that delighted me. In my lessons 
she took a different tone and set me to reading more 
serious literature, especially Shakspere and George 
Eliot, and awakened my first ambition to become a 
writer sometime. Her educational methods were in 
some wavs very much like those of the French sisters. 
She kept a red tongue with "liar" written on it, to put 
in the mouth of the child who told a story, which made 
our little world rather uneasy. Excepting for this and 
her fixed idea that the Turks were some sort of natives, 
inferior to the English, which view I greatly resented, 
she was a good woman and very kind at heart. 

Our lessons together were more reading then any- 
thing else. She used to make me translate from a queer 
little English book, "The Mother"; and Mahmoud 
Essad Effendi, very well known as writer and teacher 
of Islamic law, used to correct my Turkish and compare 
it with the original. His corrections almost amounted 
to rewriting, for he put it all in high and difficult Turk- 
ish, while what I had written was in very simple lan- 
guage. Mahmoud Essad Effendi liked the result so 
much that he asked father to have it published with my 
name and with an introduction by himself. This was 

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THE WISTEBIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

done, and the whole edition was given to the exhibition 
opened in Yildiz for the families of the soldiers killed 
in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897. As every one who 
gave a present of a certain value was decorated, I also 
got a decoration from the presiding commissioners. 
But the whole thing left an unpleasant feeling in my 
mind. In the first place the book was really by Mah- 
moud Essad Effendi, and in the second, a decoration 
from the sultan was now in my eyes a moral degrada- 
tion. 

When I returned to the college in 1899 as a student 
once more I was at great pains not to speak of the dec- 
oration incident; but to my great surprise and sorrow 
it got into the college calendar, and I cannot suppress 
the disagreeable fact. 

The departure of this English teacher was something 
of an exciting incident. One day her little daughter, 
who also lived with us and was a great favorite, said that 
the under gardener had called her a halaic. She asked 
me what this meant, and I told her laughingly that it 
means a slave. And before I could explain to her 
that it was a teasing word which is used for every little 
girl in Turkey, she ran out and broke her parasol in 
two pieces over the garden boy's back. 

A week later the mother was frightened by some 
Kurdish boys in a back street, and she left for London. 
She had a brother in India who had married a half- 
caste girl. The girl had soon died, leaving him very 
unhappy. His sister, thinking that his broken heart 
might be mended with a Turkish girl, asked me whether 

181 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I would marry her brother. As I have no class feeling 
I did not mind being thought of as pretty much the 
same as a half-caste ; besides my governess often told me 
about the docility and the mild sweetness of their char- 
acter. But behind the outwardly quiet little person 
whom she thought she knew something about, she did not 
see the stormy forces which made it quite impossible that 
the little Turkish girl should have the mild and sweet 
disposition of the Indians, even despite the fact that 
she was supposed to have something like them in her 
eyes. So my first marriage offer came from an Eng- 
lishman, who did not know anything about either it or 
me. 

After the departure of my last English governess 
Riza Tewfik began to give me lessons in French and 
Turkish literature. He was then a man of perhaps 
forty and at the height of his artistic and intellectual 
power. He was interested in philosophy and was a 
very enthusiastic admirer of Herbert Spencer. He al- 
ways carried in a bag the pictures of the great philos- 
ophers as well as the books he loved best. With his long 
hair and fine head and his books, he was simply called 
the philosopher by every one. Besides being of a very 
studious turn of mind, he had great imitative capacity 
and could imitate perfectly the dialects in the country 
and the peculiarities of all sorts of people, which made 
him a general favorite with his friends. His Herbert 
Spencer talk did not interest me so much as his knowl- 
edge of Oriental mystic philosophy and of Oriental art 
and poetry. He was a good Arabic scholar and had 

182 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

a perfect mastery of Persian. He opened to me an un- 
paralleled world of beauty and thought. The philo- 
sophical and mystical beauty of Persian literature with 
its exquisite delicacy of form made me feel that there is 
a spirituality and significance in form when it attains to 
the heights which it undoubtedly has in Persian litera- 
ture. But its very perfection is a danger to any other 
literature and art which fall under its sway. It acts 
upon them very powerfully and always in the direction 
of destroying originality. The admirers and imitators 
of the Persian culture were entirely enslaved and 
chained by its form as well as by its spirit, and any slav- 
ery to form creates rigid and conventional artists. 
Once caught in such a formal school, any new and freer 
personal expression of beauty is stifled and killed. 
And this was what happened to the old Turkish litera- 
ture. In spite therefore of the grandeur and perfec- 
tion of form in our older poets, I felt a stranger to them, 
while the simple and original expression of the people 
in their songs, stories, music, and mystical literature 
of the religious kind charmed me and made me feel akin 
to them. Their familiar, simple, and laconic way of 
telling about spiritual ideas as well as about human 
weaknesses, their humorous outlook on life, their famil- 
iar chidings of Allah for the apparent muddle of human 
destiny, their mystical adoration of the perfect order of 
the universe, were the expression of a child's simplicity 
and humor. 

Riza Tewfik must have felt this too, though perhaps 
almost unconsciously, for in spite of his continuous talk 

183 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

about the higher and more sophisticated expressions of 
Oriental art and Arabic philosophy, he had a very rich 
collection of popular songs, poems, and stories. 

He was a great talker and never tired, so that his lis- 
tener would fall exhausted, losing all power of attention 
and receptivity, long before he had done. He often 
spent nights with us at Sultan Tepe, and I remember 
father's falling asleep every now and then. But to me 
at that time he was a new world; and I was taking in, 
sucking down to the very roots, all that his memory and 
mind had to give me as the dry earth takes and sucks 
in both rain and sunshine. 

He was interested in the free, profane, and at the 
same time mystic and religious quality of my mind. I 
used to write little things which he read enthusiastically 
and encouraged generously. 

The outward and final break of the Turkish language 
away from the Persian conventions and Arabic phrase- 
ology was already in the air, although so far it was only 
Mehmed Emin who had dared to publish a few short 
poems in simple Turkish language and in the simple 
Turkish metrical form used in the people's songs and 
ballads. At first there seemed a certain clumsiness of 
form by comparison with the more musical and compli- 
cated harmony of the Arabic meters used until this time, 
and the old Ottoman poets have not become reconciled 
to them even to this day. But Riza Tewfik applauded 
them as an attempt to free Turkish poetry from its 
chains. He himself wrote in the same popular meters 
some ballads and songs which are perhaps the only 

184 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

Turkish masterpieces in this style. I think his success 
was due to his great command of our language and to 
his dexterity and ease in handling it. Although he 
could not publish at this period, because of the restric- 
tive nature of the press censorship, this was his best and 
most prolific period; for it was then that he wrote the 
large number of poems and studies which he only pub- 
lished much later. 

In the popularization of philosophy, in giving ideal 
form to Turkish meters and in describing truthfully the 
very beautiful landscapes of Anatolia as he did in some 
of his poems, he is a great pioneer. Further than this 
I do not think he had gone. He had great enthusiasm 
in expressing his ideas to young disciples, and for some 
months he often shone as a great light. Then a period 
of repetition would begin, but by that time he would 
have communicated some illuminating point of view. 
I cannot express how much I owe to him in my first 
embrvonic efforts to attain to a new form and stvle 
which would give free expression to myself and to my 
ideas. If he had adopted a hard and doctrinaire atti- 
tude in questions of form he would have hindered me 
in my thought life and in all my future literary activ- 
ities; and in accomplishing my intellectual destiny I 
should have had to spend far greater energy and effort. 
With my maturer appreciation of the accumulated ar- 
tistic beauty in the world, I count myself as naught 
among its exponents, but it is a certain satisfaction to 
have dared to be myself in every line of life. In 
thought and art, Riza Tewfik unquestionably opened 

185 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the way to me, where many others would probably 
have closed it. 

In later years, in spite of his bitter opposition to the 
Unionist government, I retained the same feeling of ad- 
miration for him, although I no longer shared all his 
opinions; but we became completely separated when he 
passed over to the side of the enemies of my country 
with Ferid Pasha in 1918. I do not regret his gov- 
ernment's condemning me to death so much as the un- 
happy fate which made him the instrument to sign the 
intended death-warrant of Turkey, the Treaty of 
Sevres. But I believe confidently that a day will come 
when his political acts and opinions will be subordinated 
to the fact that he was a link in the cultural development 
of the Turkish people. 

Sister's father, Ali Shamil Pasha, appeared on the 
scene all of a sudden. He had got back into palace 
favor, and in two months he was made a pasha and gov- 
ernor of Scutari. He lived in Kadikeuy in a very 
large house with his family. He had an Abyssinian 
wife and a very fair and young Syrian one. The story 
of his marriage with the colored lady was peculiar. 
On one occasion during his exile he had felt himself 
very ill, and indeed dying all alone, with no one but an 
Abyssinian woman who had been the slave of his wife 
who had just died. Pitying her forlorn and unpro- 
tected condition he married her so that she might have 
a pension after his death. But he did not die, and what 

186 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

was more important still he wanted a white wife so badly 
that he married a young Syrian lady. He fell entirely 
under the influence of the fair one and ignored the 
colored lady in her presence, but he had such warm af- 
fection for the colored wife that he could not conceal 
it the moment the fair one left the room. He had six 
children besides Mahmoure Abla, three white and three 
colored, and he showed the same affection for them all. 
In fact his eldest boy, who was quite black, was the most 
like himself and the most charming among them all. I 
sometimes went to visit them and found the house al- 
ways full of visitors and servants who changed very 
often. The Syrian lady managed everything very dip- 
lomatically and with womanly capacity. She seemed 
indifferent to the presence of the Abyssinian and af- 
fected a proud manner toward Ali Shamil Pasha, which 
almost reduced him to a state of slavery to her. He had 
built three houses opposite his honak for three of his 
daughters, and Mahmoure Abla now occupied one of 
them with her family. She already had three children. 
Ali Shamil Pasha was especially gay in the evenings 
and joked and talked all the time on the occasion of 
my visits. He would dress his boys in Kurdish cos- 
tumes, both the white and the colored ones; and with 
Mahmoure Abla playing a Kurdish air we would start 
a Kurdish dance all together, Ali Shamil Pasha leading, 
waving a red handkerchief, whistling and holding my 
hand ; while I held on to the others behind in a row, we 
turned rhythmically swinging and singing and feeling 

187 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

very excited and very happy, while the chandeliers 
rattled and the old hall creaked, and the whole house- 
hold crowded in in the most familiar way to watch the 
scene. 

The Abyssinian lady sat on a floor-cushion and the 
fair one in an arm-chair; but when she went out Ali 
Shamil Pasha would run to the colored lady and caress 
her cheeks like a naughty child, saying: "This is my 
lady, with the real and unfading color. Try her cheeks, 
Halide; no color comes off." This made the colored 
lady scold him, but it made her extremely happy all the 
same. 

His brothers, who were divided into factions one 
against the other politically and personally, spent their 
lives in perpetual warfare; but several that I have 
known had chivalrous and noble manners and have been 
patriotic and loyal to the country, while some unfortu- 
nately embraced foreign causes in Turkey. 

With Teize's divorce the uncomfortable and oppres- 
sive conditions in our family did not entirely cease, al- 
though we now had intervals of peace at home. My 
visits to granny and Teize's house filled me with the old 
painful sympathy, while the visits of Teize's babies to 
us always aroused domestic tempests. Abla had an 
Anatolian servant who was a perfect genius in creating 
trouble, and on the visit of the babies she would invent 
some story or other about witchcraft exercised by Teize 
through the servant who brought the children. Some- 
times it would be that she had rubbed lard on Abla's 

188 



THE WISTERIA-COVERED HOUSE AGAIN 

door so that there might be a "pig chill" 6 between father 
and her ; or she had left dog's and cat's hair mixed under 
their bed so that there might be quarrels between them. 
And the babies, already upset by the unhappy atmos- 
phere of their own home, felt the cold reception and the 
hostile feeling of Sultan Tepe unconsciously and had a 
sad look all the time, which wrung my heart. 

In 1899 I went again to the college with Neilufer, I 
as a boarder and she only as a day-scholar, so that our 
lives were separate for a time. 

e Pigs, being unclean animals in the Moslem world, naturally symbolized 
disagreeable things. A coldness involving especially unpleasant features 
is designated as a coldness of the pig, or a pig chill. 



189 



CHAPTER V 

COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

THE influence of the college on my life was so 
strong that I must give a brief analysis of its 
general and particular effects upon me. 

After the first period of my life in the wisteria- 
covered house I was no longer a child in mind and was 
very far from living the natural and normal life of a 
child of my age. I was permeated and colored by the 
pains and the daily troubles of my environment. These 
took so much space in my heart and thoughts that my 
already timid and somewhat dumb nature recoiled into 
itself to an abnormal degree, and the free development 
of personality, which .demands a certain amount of self- 
ishness and an uninterrupted view of one's own soul in 
calm intervals, was in danger of being seriously 
thwarted. 

As a whole, college had a liberating effect upon me, 
giving me a much greater balance and opening up to me 
the possibility of a personal life with enjoyments of 
a much more varied kind. Some of the already strong 
tendencies of my thought also now found new vistas 
into wider paths. 

I was most concerned with matters of religion, and 
I was in a questioning and critical mood in that respect. 

190 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

The reverent and emotional tendency of my soul, and 
its absolute need of a spiritual reality higher than the 
human realities I had so far touched, was foremost. 
I had been hitherto a faithful Moslem in heart and 
practice, but I was not orthodox in mind. Somehow the 
Sunni ! teaching did not satisfy me; and I believed, 
like Gazali, that the door of ijtihad 2 could not be closed 
against any one and that the mind could not rightly 
be required to accept any barriers in its continual search 
for higher truths, which should properly strengthen 
rather than weaken its faith. I had an infinite long- 
ing for the infinite, in religious thought as in every 
other thought activity, and I was ready to refuse a 
salvation and felicity in which all mankind could not 
share. I would plunge into any kind of knowledge 
the pursuit of which was recommended by the extra- 
ordinarily free and tolerant spirit of Islam, which I felt 
to be struggling against the conventions and the sec- 
ularization of the Sunni church. The simple saying of 
Mohammed, "Search knowledge though it be in China" 
(the most improbable and remote region to an Arab's 

i The orthodox division of Moslems, to which most Turks belong. 

2 The accepted ways of verifying the divine truths according to Islam 
were: the writings of the Koran; the interpretation of the imams, that is, 
the four great fathers of the Moslem churches; the sayings of the Prophet; 
the logical and free interpretation of the human mind based on the given 
data, which is called ijtihad* This last was not accepted by the church 
fathers, who claimed to have said the last word on divine truths. Gazali, 
the great Arab philosopher and religious teacher, contended that the doors 
of ijtihad cannot be closed, that the logical and free interpretation of the 
human mind cannot be forbidden, and that no interpretation is absolute. 
The persecution and the excommunication of the Gazali school, which is 
called the Mutezile, led the teaching of Islam to a narrower and more 
fanatical path. 

191 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

mind), I always regarded with reverence. I plunged 
into a passionate study of religious creeds, and strangely 
enough I felt charmed and soothed by my reading of 
Buddha. This seemed to me to be the creed which came 
nearest to promising a universal happiness. In a later 
stage of mental suffering, when the greatest ill seemed 
to me the continuance of consciousness, I should have 
been cured if I had still been in my Buddhist phase. 
To cease to be appeared to me as the highest felicity. 
Yet it is strange to me to recall at this earlier period 
the action and reaction of my soul and of my thought 
as distinctly dual personalities. While I was free from 
all material and past influences in moments of unre- 
pressed thinking, some other part in me, a strange and 
distinct part, claimed to be an outcome of Islamic cul- 
ture, a product of mosques, candles, cemeteries, and set 
prayers. With strange insistence I held on to the 
outward aspect of Islamism, and in some mysterious way 
I struggled to fit all the new outlook of life, acquired 
through my education in the college, into Islamic exper- 
ience and belief. 

My contact with Christianity gave me a sense of its 
hard intolerance as a directing influence in the lives 
of its devotees, while the historical developments 
through which it has passed seemed to me almost con- 
trary to the teaching conveyed by the life of Christ him- 
self. Individuals excepted, Christianity set up bar- 
riers which shut out non-Christians from a possibility 
of ultimate bliss more than did any other religion. 

It was Miss Fensham, one of the ablest teachers in 

192 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

the college, who, although she was by no means exempt 
from this exclusiveness, represented for me the highest 
type of Christianity, especially in its intellectual aspects. 
She gave us Bible lessons, and her intellectual and some- 
what imaginative presentation of the Bible intensified 
its artistic qualities and helped me to appreciate fully 
the tendencies in European literature and art which 
cannot be explained by classical influence. 

The college at this time had two distinct tendencies, 
separately embodied in two distinct personalities, Miss 
Fensham and Dr. Patrick. Miss Fensham, with her 
marvelous power of speaking and her firm Christianity, 
stood for the purely Christian side, while Dr. Patrick 
seemed more universal in spirit; she had wide sym- 
pathies and represented altogether a freer line of educa- 
tion based on a human international understanding. 
Had Miss Fensham prevailed, the college would have 
been a missionary institution, intense, but particular and 
limited in its appeal. Dr. Patrick struggled to give a 
larger scope and significance to all its works. 

Of the great qualities of Miss Fensham as a speaker 
I have a very vivid recollection connected with a Christ- 
mas night. Strangely enough, perhaps the hardest way 
to get a spiritual message to people is through speaking. 
It is much easier to convey thought and sentiment by 
writing, acting, music, even by dancing. Artistic pow- 
ers, intellectual and physical equipment, all combined 
fail sometimes to make a good speaker for the purposes 
of spiritual teaching, while an intangible capacity of pre- 
senting oneself in naked sincerity to a public makes one 

193 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

supreme over the souls and minds of audiences. Miss 
Fensham had this power. She merely told the story 
of Christ's birth and his mission in the simplest possible 
language, just as she felt it herself, and it was like a 
marvelous spiritual flame which passed from her into 
one's heart, purifying and warming and arousing in- 
tense emotion. Down my back I felt a series of strange 
tremors; on my cheeks my tears fell as long as she 
spoke. My highest religious emotions hitherto had 
come to me from the Song of the Birth of Mohammed. 
The poem, to which I have already referred, is by a sim- 
ple Turkish poet, and I know nothing more beautiful in 
literature than that unpretentious and unconscious rev- 
elation of a great soul in the throes of pain for suffering 
humanity. Miss Fensham by giving a parallel pic- 
ture of Christ aroused the same emotion in me, sincere 
Moslem though I was ; and I believe this to be the true 
form of emotional teaching, which arouses the best and 
the highest in every one according to his own lights. 

I had reentered the college as a sophomore. Al- 
though I was ahead in literary subjects I was very far 
behind in mathematics. This was a good moral dis- 
cipline for me. I had a disagreeable sense of superi- 
ority to the girls of my age, and even to grown-ups, 
which is an ugly thing in youth. I represented to my 
inner scrutiny a very complicated portrait of an un- 
evenly taught and strangely brought-up girl. My ab- 
sorption in the problems of my home life in a way de- 
veloped my heart so that it had an understanding of 
older people, but it did not prevent me from having a 

194 



COLLEGE FOE THE SECOND TIME 

considerable quantity of intellectual conceit. The ab- 
sence of any companions of my own age and the habit 
of living intensely within myself had left me ignorant 
of the joy of simple and every-day contact with other 
girls. Before I went to college I was almost unaware 
of having physical powers, nor did I dream that the free 
development and movement of a young body is one of 
the important elements of happiness. College, with its 
healthy young people, its sober and tasteful environ- 
ment, immediately acted on me. My simpler self, the 
self that had been smothered after the first years of my 
childhood, reawakened. I experienced as it were a lev- 
eling both up and down of my under-developed and 
over-developed faculties respectively. I was aston- 
ished to find myself playing and enjoying play like a 
child of eight. This part of me, which had hitherto been 
dormant, now had full scope, and I passed my playtime 
among the little ones of the preparatory department 
with complete satisfaction. I was feeling like a numbed 
limb which has recovered its normal movement in life. 

Beyond the little ones in play I mostly looked to the 
teachers for my friends. There was a rhetoric teacher 
who treated me like a grown-up, and we spent many 
delightful times together in the old haunts of Scutari. 

Granny and Xevres Badji came often to see me in 
the college, bringing delightful Haji-Bekir loukoums 
with them. But the entrance, on one of these occasions, 
of the groom, the old Natcho, who came into the 
reception-room to speak to a teacher, and the unveiled 
condition of my head at the time, disgusted my poor 

195 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

milk-mother so much that she never came to see me at 
college again. Her sense of propriety was hopelessly 
shocked to think of my appearing openly before a man 
and a Christian. "Let my eyes not see thee again in 
that sinful way," she said. 

I was so much absorbed in my many personal interests 
that at my first monthly holiday I realized with surprise 
to how great an extent I had already escaped from the 
oppression of other people's lives and troubles. My 
first interest was in an Armenian girl considerably older 
than myself, a brave dark Anatolian who struggled with 
English heroically. The mocking attitude of the other 
girls at her bad accent made me take to her in the first 
instance. She was a fervent Protestant, evidently new 
in the faith. She was very much concerned about my 
soul and did her best to convert me. More than what 
she said, however, her old Anatolian Turkish, twisting 
itself into quaint phrases to convey her theological 
thoughts, amused me and attracted me. 

Among all the different nationalities those natures 
which exercised the most vital influence over me were the 
Bulgarians. My most passionate liking was for one 
of them whose name was Pesha Kalcheff. She was the 
only girl senior in my class and took many of her lessons, 
especially the electives, with me. After two years of 
camaraderie we all of a sudden developed a short but 
very strange and warm attachment for each other. 

I have often wondered why my liking for her was 
so exceptionally strong, and I find it very difficult to ac- 
count for. It is true that she had the characteristic 

196 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

Slavic physique, which always attracted me. She had 
those deep-set eyes, the high cheek-bones, and the 
dominating expression of strength of character. She 
had a clear and penetrating mind as well as an intensity 
in her likes and dislikes, and all of these had their share 
in drawing me to her. She had a dramatic way of ex- 
pressing herself too, which was all the more forcible be- 
cause it was so unconscious and simple. Somehow this 
attachment, which I cannot class with any other I have 
had, I think of with reverence. I cannot say that it was 
due to admiration of any kind and still less to a foolish 
sentimentality. And yet there was something pecul- 
iarly perfect about it which seemed to arise out of her 
power of satisfying my soul's claims at the time. 

We made a great many plans together for the future ; 
she was to be a doctor and I a violinist, and we would 
study in Paris. I am sure that she knew as well as I 
that all this was foolish and impossible; but we enjoyed 
the illusion of lengthening our friendship into years. It 
was one of the quiet bays of contentment, an escape and 
a refuge from my somewhat tiresomely stormy nature; 
and all my attachments of this kind have given me a 
similar sense of sudden rest. 

I got to know Philip Brown in my last year, meeting 
him in one of the social gatherings of the college. He 
took a great interest in the Turks and in Turkish life, 
as well as in Oriental poetry, which drew us together 
for a time. This charming friendship unfortunately 
lasted only for a few months, as he was only a passing 
visitor in the place. He was one of the very few who 

197 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

showed a friendship and interest for my country and 
people when the entire world treated us as outlaws. 
I think of the occasion almost tenderly. He first 
drew my attention to Fitzgerald's translation of Omar 
Khayyam, and it was a source of delight to me for 
years. 

College had not only taken me away from home and 
family worries; its free atmosphere, with normal and 
intellectual people around me, had put out of my 
thoughts the suspicious, smothering, and over-oppressive 
machinery of absolutism to which my home life was 
constantly exposed. So when Miss Prime proposed to 
take me with her to visit some people on an American 
yacht that was anchored in the Bosphorus I went with 
her as naturally as an American girl. 

The yacht belonged to an American gentleman named 
Armour, and he had a Mrs. Mott and her family as his 
guests. We took tea with them and were returning 
with our caique ji about sunset, but before we had gone 
far some one from another caique shouted authorita- 
tively to us to stop in the name of the law. 

In a flash I felt rather than judged the situation. 
The other caique had been sent, on the information of 
spies, to prevent a Turkish girl from going aboard a 
foreign ship. I saw us taken by the police, passing the 
night in some horrible hole, with no end of diabolical 
questioning, and above all the shame and humiliation of 
having to go through this before Miss Prime, an Amer- 
ican. We must escape and get to the college at any 
price. Then I felt for the first time that complete mas- 

198 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

tery of will and nerve, that power of making an instant 
decision and acting upon it, which at similar moments 
since in later life has taken possession of me like some 
strange being, so different is it from the timid, clumsy, 
and undecided personality of my every-day existence. 
I leaned forward and explained to the rower that if he 
reached Scutari ahead of the police and landed us be- 
fore we could be caught, I would find some means to 
justify his conduct and to save him and us. He was a 
single rower, while the police-boat had two, but the mo- 
ment he took in the situation he passed into action. Our 
man was middle-aged but wiry and thin, and the muscles 
of his neck and shoulders stood out like those of a figure 
in the Laocoon group. Drops fell regularly from his 
face, which became purple all over, but he rowed on 
calmly though with gigantic effort. The police were 
following us. It was an interesting chase as I think of 
it now ; but then I was conscious of every second as if it 
were an interminable and indefinite race against time. 
I remember noting the wonderful ruby blaze filtering 
into the purple dusk of the evening which bathed the 
minarets in its glow, but I was also vividly aware of 
the changing size of the flag on the police caique, 
growing big now as it drew nearer to us and merci- 
fully smaller as we gained in distance. We reached 
Scutari and jumped into a carriage before my pursuers 
could land. 

In twentv-four hours a distorted version of the affair 
went round Istamboul asserting that Edib Bey's daugh- 
ter had fled to Europe on an American yacht. It was 

199 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

a hard job to save the caique ji, who was arrested the 
same night. Finally some good friends of father's ex- 
plained to his Majesty that I was hardly sixteen and 
had only been paying a visit and had no intention what- 
ever of attempting to run away from Turkey. 

In the year 1900 I remember only one single event of 
interest in our home life. A lady whom we called the 
sheik's wife arrived from Macedonia and stayed with 
us in Sultan Tepe as father's respected and much loved 
guest. She had adopted father when he was a very 
small orphan boy and had brought him up. She and 
her husband Sheik Mahmoud were very well known per- 
sons in Saloniki. Father had come to Constantinople 
with Mehemed Bey, a high official from Saloniki, and 
after some more schooling he had entered the palace as 
a secretary with the younger brother of Mehemed Bey. 
The sheik's wife, whom we saw only once, and Mahi- 
nour Hanum, an old Circassian woman who always 
came to the house, were the only persons we have ever 
known from father's past. 

I saw her for the first time, as I came home for a 
monthly vacation, sitting in the pine-groves with father, 
taking coffee and talking about father's gentleness and 
goodness as a little boy. She had come all the way from 
Macedonia to visit him in his family. The things I re- 
member well about her were her round, old, but healthy 
face shining with constant washing and her black eyes, 
which looked out with that decisive strength peculiar to 
Macedonians. I did not see her as much as I wanted to, 

200 




Alexandrt I'miko-ff 



A TOrCH OF THE PAST 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

for when I came back home a month later for the vaca- 
tion she was gone and father was extremely sad. 

The visits of two interesting and famous speakers to 
the college and the coming of Salih Zeki Bey into my 
life as my professor of mathematics blur the home and 
college events of 1900 for me entirely. 

The first was the coming of Pere Hyacinthe and his 
stay as a guest in the college. He was a famous French 
priest who had started a universal religion which could 
unite the followers of every other creed, a Christian 
parallel of Bahaism. His sincerity, intellect, and bril- 
liance of speaking had gained him a considerable number 
of followers. The Vatican was furious and watched 
him suspiciously. It was through the representative of 
the pope that an imperial irade was issued forbidding his 
speaking publicly in Turkey. 

He spoke only to the students of the college, and it 
was a privilege to hear him. Strange to say, I, who in 
those days could hardly speak freely before even a few 
persons, already took an immense interest in public 
speakers and the psychology of their performance. 
Pere Hyacinthe was a short stout person with a round 
jovial face, small benevolent eyes, and curly white hair, 
whom one could hardly imagine as an imposing figure in 
the pulpit. Yet the power of his soul, the sincerity of 
his thought, the artistic triumph of his language made 
him a living figure in my memory. Perhaps his mouth 
too is "stopped with dust" now like those of so many 
other great speakers, but the echo of his voice will be 
with me to my grave. 

201 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Swami Vivicananda, a celebrated Brahmanist, also 
visited the college and gave one of his famous speeches, 
which had the reputation of hypnotizing his audience. 
The dark slender man was clad in a loose robe, the thin 
hands moving with a life which seemed distinct from the 
rest of his body ; the expressiveness of his graceful phy- 
sique, and the mystic charm of Asia's voice, these were 
evident in him. 

I was captivated by his artistic manner, but even at 
that age I could feel that he had a certain quality of 
make-up and that he appealed to one's senses rather than 
to one's head and heart — the opposite of all that was so 
evident in Pere Hyacinthe's addresses. 

At the end of the year I had to think of making up 
for my backwardness in mathematics if I meant to 
graduate, and I had to do this as quickly as I could. 
So it was decided that I should have a special mathemat- 
ical tutor. 

When I received father's note at college saying that 
Salih Zeki Bey had undertaken to coach me for my 
mathematical course I was surprised, curious, and 
afraid. As children we had been brought up to respect 
his fame as that of a great intellectual light. At this 
time he was director of the observatory (a meteoro- 
logical one) and professor in two of the highest schools 
in Turkey. 

He was about my father's age, but his face still gave 
evidence of an intense intellectual life and a keenness 
far above the ordinary. The two set of expressions 
which characterized respectively the lower and upper 

202 



COLLEGE FOB THE SECOND TIME 

parts of his face gave it a striking aspect. His mouth 
and long thick chin had hard, mocking, almost sneering 
curves which made people uneasy in his presence, while 
the upper part of his face had a personality and force 
rarely seen. He had two long, thick, straight eyebrows 
rising slightly at their meeting-point, half questioningly, 
half thoughtfully over the sober and calm eyes which 
betrayed a dominating intelligence. If the human face 
is ever a symbol of the inner man the upper part of 
Salih Zeki's symbolized the deep mental effort which he 
constantly made, and which he embodies in a large num- 
ber of books on science and philosophy. 

At college hitherto I had never worked for approba- 
tion or marks. I had been left perfectly free to read, 
think, and work on the subjects that I loved, and I had 
been allowed simply to scrape through in the subjects 
for which I did not care. But my new teacher made me 
feel that I wanted to do more than well in a subject 
which was not my strong point ; the mocking challenge 
of his face irritated me. I worked myself into bad 
headaches, but before the end of the month the sneer 
around his mouth relapsed and he began to show the in- 
terest a teacher feels for a promising pupil. 

In the vacation I had four lessons a week, and each 
of us tried hard to help and please the other. Salih 
Zeki Bev was an intellectual aristocrat. For him the 
only real world was that of the savants who opened the 
way for what was otherwise a savage existence. For 
the ideals of the physical world he maintained a sneer- 
ing and cynical attitude, and he kept the two sides of 

203 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

life completely apart, letting himself live both, however, 
to their full. In this way he overdid or over-lived life 
so much that his great natural bodily and mental health 
gave way under the strain, and he died in an asylum, a 
very sad and ruined man, before he was sixty. 

He opened entirely a new life for me. It was a posi- 
tive world, a world where no half lights and shades were 
allowed. He was a great admirer of Auguste Comte 
and published a great deal about him in Turkish. I 
had belonged to a world of mystical and spiritual ab- 
sorption. This new phase was therefore of great edu- 
cative value to me and acted as a counterpoise to my 
natural bent. He had an absolute mastery over the 
abstruse subjects he treated, and he illumined them with 
a sharp and blinding clarity when he explained them to 
the pupils who gathered round him in the manner of 
disciples. This blinding clarity and simplicity are 
usually characteristic of the real mastery of a subject, 
but such a treatment was so different from my own 
somewhat dreamy mental temperament that I fell com- 
pletely under its sway. Though it gave my mind a new 
direction and helped it in its development, it also 
blurred for me for a time the value of spiritual things, 
and I became in a mental sense enslaved to another 
mind. I always indeed retained the humble attitude 
of a child and a student toward him, and his evident in- 
terest in me induced me to make an extra effort to ap- 
preciate scientific values. So now once again I put 
away from me the outburst of simple childishness which 
college life had awakened, and I consciously imitated the 

204 



COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME 

attitude of an older person. I remember with, sad 
amusement that before he would come to give me my 
lessons I used to run out into the garden beforehand so 
as to have a little fun before going in and taking on the 
serious work which his teaching entailed. Life never 
again offered me the chance of being free and young. 
My own personal experiences, which have involved me 
in all sorts of intimate tragedies and crises, and my 
public career in the midst of suffering peoples have 
carried me on their overwhelming torrent. 

For years I had to suppress the youth which wanted 
its life. If the passion of my poor art has appealed 
strongly to the Turkish public it is I believe because it 
was a virgin force, and its only outlet was the pages in 
which I have given it vent. The struggle to keep 
these human outbursts within myself, or within the limits 
of imaginative writing, has maintained in my heart 
a childhood and youth still emotionally intense and 
sincere. The self-imposed facts of a passionate nature 
have doubtless their effect in after-life, and in my own 
case I think they have kept me younger than my years. 

After a time of successful mathematical studv I went 
back to college, but the following year developed my 
knowledge of Salih Zeki Bey through the correspond- 
ence we carried on. He wrote long and serious letters 
on philosophical subjects. In spite of the abstract char- 
acter of the matter, he had a simple and effective style, 
full of original charm. I keep his letters of the period 
for his sons, who may sometime write his biography ; for 
I feel I can never write it, although I once promised to 

20.3 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

do so. Too near a perspective gives as wrong an im- 
pression as a too distant one. 

I graduated in June, 1901, and I married him at the 
end of the same year. We had a delightful apartment 
with a lovely view in Sultan Tepe. We furnished and 
prepared it together. No little Circassian slave bought 
from the slave-market at the lowest price could have 
entered upon our common life in such an obedient spirit 
as I did. 



206 



CHAPTER VI 

MAERIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

MY life was confined within the walls of my 
apartment. I led the life of the old-fashioned 
Turkish woman. For the first few years I 
even ceased to see father's old friends whom I had 
known as a child. I belonged to the new house and its 
master, and gave the best I had, to create a happy home 
and to help him in his great work. He had begun at this 
time his colossal work in Turkish — the "Mathematical 
Dictionary" — and I prepared for him from different 
English authorities the lives of the great English mathe- 
maticians and philosophers. 

It was at this time that the Sherlock Holmes series 
appeared in English. I cannot describe with what 
childish interest both my father and Salih Zeki Bey 
listened as I read these stories out in Turkish. Father 
used to tell us that the interpreters in Yildiz were trans- 
lating them as fast as they could, for Abdul Hamid had 
an extraordinary liking for criminal and police stories, 
especially for those of Conan Doyle; the chief of the 
royal wardrobe, Ismet Bey, read them all night behind 
a screen. Although I also found the stories curious and 
interesting, there were a yellow face and a man with a 
wooden leg in the stories which frightened me constantly 
in my dreams. 

207 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

For my own satisfaction I took to reading French lit- 
erature and that with deep interest. At first I did this 
with a view to perfecting my French, but its mere form, 
so inimitably beautiful, impressed me as something al- 
most spiritual. Yet I did not linger long with the styl- 
ists. It was the French soul in its fastidious insistence 
upon beauty, and still more upon truth, which held me 
in subjection. Good old Daudet with his warm, loving, 
and tender soul I always adored, but Zola I did not ap- 
preciate at first when I was wading through his gigantic 
productions one after another. After having digested 
his more difficult material, got over his blinding, lurid, 
and often chaotic coloring, overcome my disgust at his 
too often ugly sexual and degrading descriptions I 
became gradually aware of Zola himself. Although he 
was without a refined sensibility I could not deny his 
mastery of words, his powerful if clumsy application of 
light and color in human descriptions. I do not say this 
of his portraiture of individuals, for these he rarely cre- 
ated. But he lighted up portions of the human soul 
with his fastidious and very French idealism; he chas- 
tised men by making grotesque statues and pictures of 
their vileness. All this, however, ultimately effaced it- 
self from my mind, while Zola has remained as perhaps 
the most powerful educator of my soul. To me he 
represented that rare idealist fight for truth in which he 
persisted, just as an ordinary man fights for breath if 
his mouth is closed by force. Zola's soul sensed an in- 
visible oppression created by the lower powers which 
dominate man and make him eager to suppress truth. 

208 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

There is no other writer I know who stands up for truth 
with such temperamental passion. He wanted the 
whole of it ; his meticulous idealism would not allow him 
to temper it. The higher the standard he set before 
himself for man the harder he struck at his weaknesses. 
He attacked man's vices, exaggerating into absolute 
folly the sexual ones. I do not know why he was so 
much haunted by man's sexual weaknesses; there are 
plenty of other shortcomings. But Zola seems to have 
been aware of them also, though only in his later works, 
as "Les Quatres Evangiles." Zola evidently thought 
that the sexual perversions were fundamental ones in 
man's character and that unless he were made sane and 
normal in that respect he could not reach higher levels. 
I always identify Zola with a picture of Christ chasing 
the money-lenders from the Temple. I do not remem- 
ber whose the picture is, but in it Christ has the unre- 
lenting eyes of a destroyer, full of a holy horror, such 
horror as Pasteur would have had in his eyes if he had 
seen a tube of microbes of some terrible sort getting 
loose in a human dwelling. Zola has that same horror 
at the sight of vice let loose among human beings, and 
he attacks it with the relentlessness of a force of nature. 
He does not stop to see if there is anything to be said 
on the other side. His impetuous honesty to destroy 
not only the vices and ugliness of the human heart but 
man's self-created illusions and shams nearly killed my 
mystical comfort from the Divine and the Unseen. If 
Zola had lived and seen the destitution and misery of 
to-day he would surely have encouraged men to hold fast 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

to the elevating and purifying influence of the spiritual 
world in every sense. 

He made me put these questions to myself: Was it 
the eternal desire for inward support and comfort which 
kept me tied to the Unseen? Or was it the fear that I 
could not keep the needed strength of soul in my strug- 
gles for the highest? Could I stand and face the ugly 
truth of human realities without spiritual aid and still 
have the strength to serve my kind? 

The extraordinary greatness and inward power of 
Zola was this: seeing men, as he did see them, cut off 
from every spiritual belief, he still fought for their bet- 
terment in his own way. Zola's test is the hardest test 
for sincere and piously inclined souls, but if they can 
come out of it whole nothing afterward can change their 
belief in the existence of a Divine Power. 

I had already been shocked by my first contact with 
the reality of life, and when I came to feel that one's 
own eternally isolated and very ephemeral soul has to 
stand alone and struggle and bear as well as serve man- 
kind (a mankind as presented in Zola's coloring), it 
almost destroyed my mental equilibrium; and in the 
mental disturbance which followed I was much under 
his influence. 

In the autumn of the year 1902 I had a nervous 
breakdown. Such illnesses and mental affections are 
worth studying in oneself as well as in others, for if they 
are the source of degeneration and discord, even of an- 
archy in the masses, they are also in some instances land- 
marks in individual souls. 

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MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

My trouble seemed like simple insomnia at first. I 
ceased to sleep. Something in my head and in my inner 
conscience had awakened, and I had the feeling that I 
should never sleep again. 

Some light in my head was constantly burning. I 
could look and see the inside me clearly with a light 
that was never dimmed, never lessened. When I 
closed my eyes in sheer exhaustion, still that intense con- 
sciousness glared on in me. 

At first the idea that I should never sleep again 
frightened me, but when the conviction became settled, 
I ceased to fear. My consciousness of the time seemed 
really to solidify; minutes, hours, nights were eternal. 
Even after nights through which I passed, sitting by the 
light of a succession of candles which burned up one 
after another, I had the feeling that time was there; it 
was not moving, and it had never moved. Then I felt 
that immortality, an unceasing consciousness in a light 
which will never be extinguished and which will never 
liberate a mortal, is horrible. 

I was at last slowly and ironically settling down to 
bear my new condition patiently. Every warm color in 
me had somehow faded into a somber gray. Every 
desire in life had left me. There was no sense of values, 
no sense of possible physical satisfaction. That won- 
derful garden and the coiling Bosphorus, that marvelous 
night of purple blue in which sharpest forms take fluid 
outlines and the stars glisten like drops of water, gave 
me no more emotion. All nature was gray to me, and 
gray all the time. 

211 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I believed I was quietly fading away, and I waited for 
the end. I covered the looking-glasses in my room at 
night, for my face in its sharp lines and my eyes in their 
strange stare frighened me. 

Some other self of mine seemed to watch this queer 
stranger. I suddenly felt that I had fallen into a world 
among people who were strangers, and that I had 
nothing in common even with the most familiar and the 
dearest. Surely this girl I watched in the mirror was 
related to these people around, and she was an inhab- 
itant of this senseless place, but the inside me had no 
relations or interests. And the inside me was after all 
the real me. I saw the values of life in glaring lucidity, 
as I have never seen them since. 

My life before this strange experience and my life 
after it are separated into two stages with this lucid but 
gray interval between them. 

Of course I had all the nerve experts, and they did 
everything to make me sleep and eat. They naturally 
thought I was a foolish young girl, and a stubborn one 
too, who had hypnotized herself into this stage. There 
was one of them who talked interminably and made me 
swallow eggs, trying hard to overcome the silent inward 
resistance of his disagreeable patient, till I heard his 
exasperated voice one day say, "Why are you crying?" 
Only then did I realize that the cheeks and the hands 
of this very foolish girl, which was my physical self, 
were wet with tears. 

In the end it was Mahmoure Abla who called me back 
to life from this gray mental monotony. She came 

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MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

often from Kadikeuy ; she kissed me and scolded me and 
handled me as if I were one of her many babies. It 
was after one of the numerous Turkish baths she gave 
me that I suddenly had my old sense of life. As I lay 
in my towels I had a physical feeling' of comfort, and 
that flicker which awakened with her motherly touch 
repeated itself with the baths from that time onward. 

With sleep and the ordinary human feelings came a 
very serious illness. And that illness was a complete 
cure, for with it came also a new creation. I was to 
create a being. How mysterious and how unutterably 
divine is the act of creation! The greatest genius cre- 
ating the greatest human masterpiece is not the equal of 
a simple woman in whom a new soul is called to life with 
all its infinite complications of the vital mechanism. 
There is indeed an infinity of hard labor in all the cre- 
ative processes of nature, and if nature itself is con- 
scious, what infinite and inexplicable divine pain there 
must be too! But for me now this mental disturbance 
which had seized me withered like a great natural catas- 
trophe which comes and leaves behind only some peace- 
ful landscape. 

These years are dream years for me, but in the middle 
of the interminable night sufferings of the time I had 
a symbolic dream. Some one said to me, "Here are the 
souls of men; which will vou choose?" 

"I choose Ayetullah," I said, and so loud that I woke 
up with my own voice. Ayetullah means the sign of 
Allah, but I do not know whether it was the meaning or 
the sound of it that made my say it in my dream. In 

213 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the morning when I told my dream they told me that 
this was a sign that my baby would be a boy and that I 
must call him Ayetullah. 

I saw him in Mahmoure Abla's lap, in a towel — the 
most astonishing piece of creation, as every baby is — 
and he was called Ali Ayetullah, the first name after my 
grandfather. He was a big fine creature with a face 
and head that looked three months old. The face was 
my own face repeated in a darker shade, the head cov- 
ered with very black hair, and eyes that had none of the 
bleared, miserable, sorry old looks of most babies when 
they realize that they have stepped into man's den. 
Then came to me the strange bliss that never comes to 
any one except at this particular moment, every atom of 
one's physical being, the farthest confines of one's tor- 
menting inner self bathing and expanding in light and 
ecstasy. 

Everything was done in the old Turkish way. 
Nevres Badji was there to make the red * sherbet for 
seven days, and an elderly Greek nurse with Mahmoure 
Abla took care of me and the child. Everything be- 
longing to him was pink, as simple and as sentimental as 
it could be. Above me, two onions tied in white muslin 
with pretty red bows were hung on the wall. The 
Greek nurse with that precious human bundle in her 
arms, its soft long pink shawl trailing on the floor, 
walked up and down on the thick carpet, singing in the 
softest and lowest murmurs, "Tolililicamou. . . ." It 

i Red in order to ward off the peris. 

214 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

meant nothing, but the simple melody also seemed to 
trail like the ends of the shawl, and my heart trailed and 
crawled after it in this first and highest realization of 
love. How often have I put my arms round that fat 
Greek woman's neck and kissed her, and how often has 
she hugged me and called me foolish names and sung 
me to sleep as she did the pink bundle! Her attach- 
ment, which began at this supreme moment, lasted for 
years after. 

The old sheik of the Euzbeks, a dear and holy neigh- 
bor of ours, gave the baby its name. He sat by my bed 
and chanted the call to prayers in his grave tones into 
its ears, and three times he called, "Ali Ayetullah, Ali 
Ayetullah, Ali Ayetullah!" 

When the gray cloud of my mental misery was com- 
pletely lifted by this event I began to agree with the 
doctor who thought I was a foolish little girl self- 
hypnotized into neurasthenia; and after this I felt that 
nothing could shake the equilibrium of my soul, no mat- 
ter how hard the things might be which I might have to 
undergo. Ali Ayetullah undid the complicated knot of 
life's dilemma; he cured me from my over-intellectual 
suffering and made me realize the beauty of the simple 
and common affections, which I shared with all the other 
women of my kind. 

For three months I lived on wrapped in Ali Aye- 
tullah, though sharing him with his devoted nurse. 
Then I had a psychical experience in connection with 
him which is perhaps worth recording. 

It occurred in this way. Father did not come home 

215 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

as usual one evening. Salih Zeki Bey told me that he 
was going to have an operation in the German Hospital 
the next day, and he had not wanted Abla and me to 
know of it before it was over. 

I had a bad night ; my conscience smote me, for since 
Ali's birth all my heart had gone out to him, and I 
seemed hardlv aware of the existence of any one else. 
This lack of affection on my part toward my father dur- 
ing the recent months now troubled me very much, and 
early the next morning I went to the hospital and 
decided to stay a few nights at an English friend's to be 
near my father in the hospital during the days of his con- 
valescence. 

The first night I had a dream. In the large grounds 
of Sultan Tepe there is a raised mound with thick clus- 
tering fig-trees, looking over the sea. There among the 
trees a tall and half-naked woman in white drapery, her 
black hair streaming and a torch in her hand, walked up 
and down. I woke with a strange anguish and feeling 
that something had happened to Ali Ayetullah. There 
was no reason why I should connect this dream with 
the ill omens of the old childish stories told by the ser- 
vants, but my depression and anxiety could not be put 
aside by any amount of reasoning or will-power. 

I tried to be natural and cheerful with father, but 
before I left his room the man-servant appeared with a 
strange look on his face, telling me that Salih Zeki Bey 
asked me to go home that evening. He was not really 
ill, he said, but he was not feeling quite well. I ar- 
ranged to go home at once. All the way there I could 

216 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

not bring myself to believe that the call was really for 
my husband. 

As soon as I reached our house, I ran straight up to 
my room, and before the door stood Salih Zeki Bey, 
leaning against it almost as though to prevent my go- 
ing in. 

In the middle of the room Mahmoure Abla was lean- 
ing over something laid on a floor-cushion. 'The fit 
is over, H-alide," she said, as I went in. 

The baby was in a towel; the little face was still in 
the hard and painful purple stare of a convulsion; the 
little mouth was still pulled into the diabolical travesty 
of itself that convulsions give to babies. But he opened 
his eyes and gave me that melancholy smile which was 
peculiar to the heavy eyelids and the greenish depths of 
the eyes hidden under their long fringes. 

"I don't want him to die, Mahmoure Abla." 

There followed a long period of fighting against the 
convulsions. For months I sat up night after night 
with that bit of human flesh, which seemed so essential 
to my life. Very often the doctors gave him up, but 
we went on struggling, and I could not believe that he 
could die while I was still a dweller on the earth. Each 
time before a fresh fit I dreamed of the same woman. 
She usually appeared on the sea-shore, and sometimes 
she would be swimming. She was always half naked, 
but the color of her eyes, although often the color of 
dead seaweed, was at other times black and she stared at 
me hard. After each dream-meeting with her, I was 
sure that Ali Ayetullah would have fresh convulsions, 

217 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and he always did. The torture and tyranny of the 
dream are inexplicable. Salih Zeki Bey tried hard to 
influence me against believing in it, but to no effect. 
Once there was an interval of twenty days when I did 
not have the dream nor he the fit. Then I saw her 
again. But the baby looked well and I wanted to make 
myself believe that it was nervous imagination which I 
must overcome. So defying my superstitious fears I 
went out to shop, for the first time for months. But be- 
fore I entered the boat from Scutari the man-servant 
came running breathlessly after me. The baby was in a 
bad fit. 

It was the worst he had, and I was seriously alarmed. 
But he lived, and that was the last dream I had of her 
and the last of his fits. 

The dream woman appeared once more, when Ali 
Ayetullah was ten ; that is, ten years later. He had had 
a long attack of pleurisy, and although weak he seemed 
out of danger, and so I had taken him to my cottage on 
the little island of Antigone. This time she was dressed 
when she appeared and sat by me with a mocking smile 
in her eyes, the color of dead seaweed again. 

'You are some one I know; tell me your name," I 
said. 

She sat and smiled on. As I woke and felt the an- 
guish of the old days I jumped out of bed with sudden 
mental recognition, crying, "It is she." Three days 
later Ali developed typhoid fever, an extraordinarily 
severe case, from which he was saved almost by a mira- 
cle. And that was the last of the fateful dream woman. 

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MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

In 1905, before Ali Ayetullah could walk, the great 
Japanese war came, and Hassan Hikmetullah Togo, 
named after the great Japanese naval hero, appeared 
with red tufts of feathery hair, bleared baby eyes, and 
a continual screech. At first he did not seem to be of 
much account, but in two months he shot out into the 
loveliest of small creatures, with a perfect golden com- 
plexion, golden curls, and golden eyes that had a lively 
language of their own. Ali Ayetullah had expressed 
the slow melancholy of my inner self, but when Hassan 
arrived he came with a temperament, life, and energy all 
his own. At eleven months I had quite an uncanny 
feeling as I saw the tiny being running about and talk- 
ing Greek and Turkish to the conversation point. 

In 1905 we left Sultan Tepe and went to live in the 
upper apartments of the observatory on the Grande Rue 
of Pera. Hassan was fifty days old at the time. 

The life in the Grande Rue of Pera was strange to 
me. I was already living a secluded life, but the noise, 
the vulgar amusement, and the bustle of the whole place 
threw me further into my inner shell. Fortunately 
there were rooms at the back of the house, and I pre- 
ferred to look out at the dull dirty courtyards full of 
rubbish-heaps, and at the tall ugly apartments, over the 
smudgy lines of which the Golden Horn stretched out 
in a thin blue line amid the curve of its purple hills. 

I had a tiny study with my books and piano, and I 
spent all my leisure hours there alone. After Zola I had 
gone back to Shakspere. 

Some of Shakspere had already been translated by 

219 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Sirry Bey and Abdullah Djevdet Bey, but it was done 
in over-literary Turkish. There is a wild harmony in 
the Anglo-Saxon diction of Shakspere the parallel of 
which I thought I could find in the simple but forcible 
Turkish of popular usage, the words and expressions of 
which belong more to Turkish than to Arabic or Persian 
sources. This was at the time an unheard-of and shock- 
ing thing, but as I had no intention of publishing I was 
not hindered by any considerations of what the public 
or press might say. Shakspere with his amazing genius 
had created much of his own English, expressing psy- 
chological and philosophical complications of the sub- 
tlest order with words never before so employed. The 
popular Turkish genius in its language was a thing 
rather apart, although it had greater resemblance to 
the forcible Anglo-Saxon than the refined Persianized 
Turkish could be made to have. Still I had to do a 
great deal of twisting, especially as I had begun with 
"Hamlet," which is so full of abstract thought. But 
the task gave me great intellectual amusement. Salih 
Zeki Bey also became interested, and as he was not able 
to enjoy the masculine grandeur of Shakspere's art as 
revealed in its original English it was the intellectual 
side of the work which interested him. He had read 
"Hamlet" in the French rendering, which is an ex- 
tremely poor one, and he was shocked at my vulgarizing 
Shakspere by the use of such simple Turkish as I had 
chosen ; so he used to go over my version scratching out 
with a red pencil here and putting in Arabic words and 
the usual orthodox terms of high literary Turkish there. 

220 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

As he always maintained an air of professional authority 
I was scolded a great deal, but I went on doing the work 
in my own way, he scratching out and writing in his own 
version. When I began the sonnets, however, even his 
mathematical accuracy and correctness in expression 
felt that there was some intangible lyrical vein which 
one could not always convey in strictest orthodox 
phraseology. 

I have often returned to Shakspere since that time, 
and later on I translated a great many of his works, 
but I believe that my fullest realization of him was in 
this same year 1906. Shakspere, although more im- 
personal than any other human genius that I know, re- 
vealed the dominant personality of his mind to me then. 
He made me feel clearly that there is such a thing as a 
difference between man and woman in art, in religion, 
and in all forms of culture. I cannot say that one is 
higher than the other, but they are distinctly different. 
The highest art and the highest beauty may be revealed 
by persons of either sex indifferently. Genius is a di- 
vine gift which either a woman or a man may have; and 
sometimes indeed it is a woman who may express the 
man's note in art while a man may express the woman's. 
It does not depend on their sex ; it depends on the qual- 
ity of their souls. 

For me, both our poet Suleiman Dede and Jesus 
Christ in their sublime note of love strike the supreme 
note of women in religion and art; while Mohammed 
and Shakspere sound the highest note of man, or rather 
the male note in the same realms. It is strange to 

221 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

admit that what Mohammed gave me in religion, 
Shakspere gave me in art. There is no Christian feel- 
ing in Shakspere. He is a man, clearly chanting the 
creative manliness of his barbaric ancestors, toning them 
down to harmony, indeed bringing into formal beauty 
the chaotic ideals of their dreams and struggles, 
and painting them in terms with which every human 
being in every decade of history may become famil- 
iar. 

Mohammed, though the last Semitic prophet, is not 
influenced in his soul to any great extent by the series 
of prophetic predecessors who left behind them their 
tradition and their prophetic art. Though somewhat 
impressed by the organizing power and the manly capac- 
ity of Moses, he is otherwise but little touched by the 
Jewish art in the Old Testament, which not infrequently 
reaches a strident note of complaint, sometimes very 
beautiful but usually very hysterical. The sublime 
but womanly gestures of Christ did not touch Mo- 
hammed either. In his love, in his pity, in his social or- 
ganization and his whole conception of life both here 
and hereafter, Mohammed is essentially a man. The 
mystic and somewhat sickly tendencies of his own people 
had to find satisfaction by infiltrations from other 
sources into his clear and well balanced creed ; while the 
manly tone with which Christianity was tempered by 
means of its iron organization of later years all came 
from church organizers and personalities of somewhat 
Roman tendencies rather than from Christ's own teach- 
ings. 

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MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

In the spring we went back to Sultan Tepe and spent 
the summer there. This year my sister Neiliifer mar- 
ried a young sheik in Broussa. She was only fifteen 
years old. 

The second important event of this year was poor 
Mahmoure Abla's trouble. She was the first victim of 
the old regime in our family 

It happened in this way. Ali Shamil Pasha with his 
new and constantly increasing power was brought into 
conflict with other influential men around Abdul 
Hamid. His nephew Abdurazzak, a young and im- 
petuous Kurdish aristocrat, had begun a quarrel with 
Ridvan Pasha, the prefect of Constantinople, a great 
personage in the immediate entourage of the sultan. 
The quarrel arose about the mending of a piece of road 
in front of Abdurazzak's house. Ridvan Pasha had 
near him a man called Ahmed Aga who had some un- 
official but very influential post in the road-mending de- 
partment. Ahmed Aga refused to give orders for the 
mending of the road before Abdurazzak's house. Ab- 
durazzak, having heard of this, kidnapped Ahmed Aga, 
imprisoned him in his house, and handled him in Kurd- 
ish fashion, threatening to keep him in his house as a 
hostage till the bit of road was repaired. Ridvan Pasha, 
with whom Ahmed Aga was a favorite, took the matter 
up and complained to his Majesty. I believe an irade 
of the usual kiss-and-be-friends kind was issued, but 
Abdurazzak was in his fiercest Kurdish temper and by 
no means in a kissing mood. Ridvan Pasha sent the 
road repairers under his command to release Ahmed 

223 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Aga, and they bore down upon Abdurazzak's house with 
their spades and other road-making implements. A 
fight took place, and men were wounded on both sides. 
Another irade removed Ahmed Aga from the scene, and 
an apparent calm was established; but it was the un- 
natural calm that precedes a worse storm. 

One afternoon father came home earlier than usual 
looking distressed and pained. Serious events had 
taken place the night before. Ridvan Pasha, going to 
his summer residence in Erenkeuy, had been murdered 
in his carriage by four Kurds who attacked him on the 
bridge near Ali Pasha's house in Haidar Pasha. They 
were arrested and brought to Ali Shamil Pasha as the 
governor of Scutari. He imprisoned them for a few 
hours but released them the next morning, evidently at 
the instance of his nephew. This aroused the fears of 
the sultan, and that very night all the Bederhani family, 
of which Ali Shamil Pasha was the head, were arrested, 
packed into a boat, and sent off to Tripoli in chains. 
Ali Shamil Pasha's house and the little houses opposite 
where my sister lived were under the strictest guard, 
and no contact with outsiders was allowed. My poor 
brother-in-law, who had done nothing all his life but 
humbly and conscientiously mix and prepare drugs as 
a chemist, was huddled into the boat with the others 
and put in chains also. Even boys of twelve were taken 
from school and exiled. No male Bederhani was to be 
left in Constantinople ; consequently a great number of 
Bederhanis who knew nothing whatever about the 
quarrel of Abdurazzak suffered with the rest. Poor 

224 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

Ali Shamil Pasha was the victim of his family pride, for 
he had not approved of the quarrel, but his nephew's 
influence had made him release the hired murderers of 
Ridvan Pasha. 

It was impossible for any of us to get at Mahmoure 
Abla. But the railway ran below the street where she 
lived, and so we used to take the train and casually ap- 
pear at the window of the car as it passed her house, 
trying to see if she were ever at the window or on the 
balcony. As Ali Shamil Pasha used to come to our 
house a good deal we expected father to be arrested also ; 
for the sultan did not like father on account of his well 
known liberal ideas. At such times of course the paid 
spy army were endlessly active, trying to deserve their 
salaries or to get new honors by new discoveries and re- 
ports, while a new set of men who were ambitious of 
joining the easy profession of the spy were even more 
active. To get into the favored set the worst passions 
and ambitions were aroused. God preserve any people 
from such a system ; for apart from the great misfortune 
of the individual suffering, the more dangerous and deep 
the corruption becomes, the wider does the low habit of 
spying spread, men finding an easy way to success by 
merely reporting their neighbors. When such a class is 
once formed in a country it is like a hidden moral poison, 
and every succeeding era is poisoned by it. 

Mahmoure Abla had four children, the eldest at this 
time nine and the youngest eleven months ; and another 
was to arrive in five months. In my futile train rides 
I never got a glimpse of any one on her little balcony. 

225 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Once only I saw her white veil, which she used at her 
prayers, hung up to dry, and so great was my pain that 
even this upset and excited me to a night of fever. 
Father went more frequently and mourned for her like 
a lost soul. He saw her once on the balcony, and their 
eye or rather soul contact was described to me by her 
after her release. "When I saw him pass, forgetting 
the police guard under the window, I waved my hands ; 
he was searching the house with his eyes. The moment 
he caught sight of me he sat down in the carriage and 
covered his face with his hands." He was sobbing 
aloud, and that in a public train. After he came home 
that day he sat by a table and cried as he used to do after 
mother's death. Meanwhile granny and Tei'ze had 
taken a house in Sultan Tepe not far from ours, and 
during all these days of anxiety I went often to see 
granny and talk about Mahmoure Abla. She also 
cried bitterly and continually. After two months of 
this helpless suffering, she told me one day that she was 
going to try and get to Mahmoure Abla. Father went 
on trying hard in the palace through influential friends 
of his to get some relief for my brother-in-law. Hu- 
manity, although so cowardly at times, is not entirely 
extinguishable even in the worst regime, so that he had 
some hopes. 

Granny said a significant good-bye to me one day, and 
taking a humble one-horse carriage she drove away in 
her loose black charshaf. When she did not return in 
the evening, I felt that it was ominous ; but the next day 
early in the morning she was back with tears and smiles. 

226 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

She had got in and had spent the night with Mahmoure 
Abla. We had of course to hear her adventures. She 
had left the carriage at a suitable place and walked to- 
ward the house. Fortunately the guard at the corner 
of the street was not there, so granny had only the one 
guard before the door to deal with. I can imagine her, 
her white wrinkled face still keeping its perfect oval, her 
toothless mouth small, pink, and fresh as a child's, her 
gray eyes full of tears, her bearing calm and dignified, 
her face clean as only the face of an old Moslem woman 
who prayed five times a day and washed five times a 
day could be, and her aristocratic voice saying: 

"She is my granddaughter; she has no one; she is shut 
up with four little ones, and I must find out when the 
fifth is coming. Let me in, my son, if you have a family 
and a heart." 

She must have actually patted his back as she im- 
plored him, and she must have trembled with fear lest 
Mahmoure Abla, who indicated her presence behind the 
lattices by excited coughs, should get into one of her 
usual tempers and scold the policeman or herself for 
condescending to beg for anything. But the man had 
looked up and down anxiously and had at last whispered, 
"Go in, granny, and to-morrow, early at dawn, when 
I come to take my watch I will let you out; but don't 
talk loud, for if the other guard knows I have let you in 
I shall lose my bread; I may even be exiled; so don't 
ruin me." 

"Mahmoure's first word of greeting was, 'Why did 
you beg a policeman so hard?' " said granny smiling 

227 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

through her tears. But Mahmoure Abla in spite of her 
pride had wept copiously and kissed her continually, 
asking about every one of us, and talking loudly about 
the rough way in which the house was searched and the 
difficulty she had in getting the guards to buy even medi- 
cine for her. Shut up for months in the state she was 
in, she had of course been suffering, but the guards 
looked upon the desire for medicine by a woman whose 
husband and father were in the bad graces* of the sultan 
as luxurious whims. There were hardly three months 
more before her confinement, and if she were not re- 
leased she would be condemned to face the ordeal all 
alone. 

My old enemy Insomnia came back and stared at me 
through long nights, presenting Mahmoure Abla's im- 
age distorted in pain and with no one except babies and 
a very stupid little maid to help her. Why did women 
have babies any time and anywhere ? 2 

The extraordinary court which was sent by the sultan 
to try the Bederhanis in Tripoli separated my brother- 
in-law from the Bederhanis, and he was exiled to Jeru- 
salem, which was heaven after the dungeons of Tripoli. 

2 During the first Greek revolution in the Greek provinces of the Turkish 
Empire, the Turkish people in Istamboul were uneasy about the Greeks, 
who might rise in sympathy and start massacres, and so the Moslem youth 
kept guard in the Turkish quarters. Chenghel Tahir Pasha, a strict and 
wonderfully able man, was appointed to govern Istamboul at the crisis. He 
issued an order that every one should go to his home after night prayers 
and that no one was to be seen in the streets. The first night the guards 
arrested everybody who was found abroad. One of them had gone in 
search of a sage femme for his wife who was going to have a baby. "Tell 
your woman," said Tahir Pasha, "she must not have a baby at night and 
at such a time again." 

228 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

Ali Pasha's military grade was taken from him, and he 
was condemned to perpetual imprisonment with the rest 
of his family in Tripoli. He died in the prison in 1907 
after a sad and lonely life. Mahmoure Abla was re- 
leased after two more months, and she had her baby near 
us. She soon sailed for Jerusalem with her five chil- 
dren to join her husband. They came back with all the 
other exiles in 1908, and a great reception was given to 
all the passengers in the boat as having been the victims 
of the great tyrant. 

In the fall of 1906 before we could go back to our 
place in Pera I had a dangerous internal operation 
which kept me in bed for six months. I was very near 
death, but despite very high fever I never lost con- 
sciousness. My head was full of strange whims and 
regrets. I was, as once before, immensely conscious of 
myself and distant in feeling from every one else. 
Something was hurting me in an unutterable way. I 
seemed a foolish child playing with words and as though 
I had missed the essence of life. What had I missed ? 
I had made a love marriage. I had two babies who 
made me realize the full ecstasy of motherhood. I could 
not complain much of the details of my daily life, for 
thev were more or less the same as the dailv life of the 
great majority of other Turkish women. I did not 
envy the bustle and the empty pleasures of the few more 
or less described by Pierre Loti. I never had "hat and 
ball" 3 longings. What I had missed and what I 
wanted, I did not know. I remember repeating the 

s That is, to go out unveiled in a hat like Christian women, and to dance. 

229 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Turkish expression used for those who die with an un- 
fulfilled desire: "I will go to my grave with open 
eyes." 

In the spring the anxious look on the faces around me 
relaxed and they talked of moving me to a warmer 
climate, probably to Beirut; and I also felt hope and 
desire for life returning. The first time that they car- 
ried me into the garden, on a warm day in April, the 
touch and smell of new grass penetrated me with an ab- 
solute sense of contentment, and I seemed to lose all the 
vague regrets of the past months. The world was after 
all what it should be; its aspect could be changed ac- 
cording to the use we made of it ; its color depended on 
the lenses through which we looked at it; and its hard- 
ness or softness, its painfulness or soothing power, de- 
pended on our personal handling of it. 

As I could not go to Beirut without the permission 
of the sultan because of my father's position in the 
palace, my desire turned to Antigone, the quiet little 
island in the Marmora where I had stayed in 1901 after 
my graduation. I wanted a house, an old-fashioned 
one, with wisteria-covered windows and roses in the 
garden, big rooms and large halls like the ones in which 
I had been born but which had been sold some years ago. 

There are queer coincidences in life ; and a house was 
actually found in Antigone as like granny's house as two 
houses could be. The garden was a profusion of rose- 
bushes; its double stairs had long windows over which 
wisteria and ivy coiled. It was on raised ground, and 
below it a steep hill covered with pines ran down to the 

230 



MARRIED LIFE AND THE WORLD 

beach. I went to the place as an invalid and recovered 
fast both in body and mind. It was the final conquest 
of my mature self over the foolish whims and the pre- 
cocious mind of a rather ridiculous young girl. I have 
gone through great suffering since then, but nothing has 
ever been able to bring back the mental disorder and 
estrangement from my kind which I then experienced, 
and nothing has ever been able to keep me from the en- 
joyment of the humble things which Allah has put into 
the world. 

We lived in the pine-woods. Every morning we 
started from the house with the babies, their nurses, and 
the cook all on donkeys, and we did not return till eve- 
ning. Reshe had developed into a fine colored lady, 
dressed in the latest fashion, proud of the attention she 
attracted, and always taking care to wear a thick veil 
and gloves, which caused her to be taken for a white 
woman with a beautiful figure. She took charge of Ali 
Ayetullah, and Hassan had his old Greek nurse. I lay 
in a hammock the whole day, body and heart and mind 
open to the salty warmth of the sea air and the pungent 
scent of the pines. I was convinced I should get well, 
for in spirit I felt back in my first childhood. In my 
new outlook on life the continual intellectual worry had 
abated. I somehow sensed the human heart better and 
ceased to be impatient of its foolishness. 

As I grew stronger we enlarged our circle of friends, 
at first with reluctance on my part, but later with real 
enjoyment. There were some old pupils of Salih Zeki 
Bey's, some college friends of mine, and some neighbors 

231 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

in Antigone, who included Hussein Jahid Bey and his 
family. With these we made excursions by boat or 
went on simple picnics and thus spent a summer of 
peaceful well-being, oblivious of the throes of the coun- 
try under its most tyrannical ruler. 

The winter of 1907 I passed quietly in Pera. I was 
deep in old Turkish books, especially the chronicles. I 
got to reading Naima, the wonderful Turkish chronicler 
who reaches to the levels of Shaksperian psychological 
penetration in his very simple yet vivid description. 
Sometime previously in my nights of insomnia I had 
begun reading his almost incomprehensible and very 
formless old prose, and till I could penetrate the hard 
crust of his language, and till his critical and intensely 
living presentation of facts emerged upon me, he suc- 
ceeded in putting me to sleep. But the moment the 
difficulties of its external form disappeared and I lost 
consciousness of the form as something apart I had a 
wonderful vision of individual souls, large crowds, and 
revolutions in life and action. He was opening my eyes 
to the psychology of the old Turks, and I found the key 
which would interpret many moments of psychological 
importance in our early history, in the bewilderingly 
fast changes which were now taking place before my 
eyes. 

In May, 1908, we went back to the old house in Antig- 
one, and till the actual Declaration of the Constitution 
on July 11 of that year we were perfectly unaware of 
the new life in Macedonia which was blossoming into 
such tremendous activity. 

232 



PART TWO 

NEW TURKEY IN THE MAKING 



CHAPTER VII 

THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM: THE 
TANZIMAT, 1839-76 

FROM the eleventh century to the fourteenth the 
new Turkish Empire produced extraordinary 
sultans, men of great ability and organizing 
capacity. The fact that the empire governed more 
justly and humanely than its predecessors, and than the 
neighboring powers, gave it stability and insured its 
continuance in a region where the native population 
much outnumbered the rulers. Able administrators, 
austere and clean fighters, makers of law, patrons of 
art, the Ottoman Turks created an Ottoman citizen- 
ship which was envied by the members of the neighbor- 
ing states ; and they created an art and a life which have 
left as much of a mark on the world as any ancient em- 
pire, and a greater one than any medieval state. 

It is no wonder that the divine right of sultans turned 
the heads of the ruling dynasty and that they degener- 
ated into tyrants with no ideals except those of personal 
glory and pomp. The empire lasted for centuries, how- 
ever, thanks to occasional able leaders and to some wise 
sultans, and to the vitality of the Ottoman nation. 

Besides the internal causes of decay and perpetual 
wars of aggression so ruinous for the empire, Europe in 

235 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

her feverish progress after the fifteenth century was 
gaining at a tremendous pace over the Ottoman Empire, 
for which the seventeenth century saw internal deteri- 
oration of every kind, a condition of anarchy at frequent 
intervals; in the eighteenth century there were feeble 
attempts to better the conditions of the empire, while 
its statesmen seemed aghast at the distance gained over 
it by Europe. 

In addition to the serious causes of anxiety which the 
failing condition of the empire aroused, the French 
Revolution, which shook political institutions all over 
the world, quickly sent its loud echo to Turkey. 

Selim III (1789-1809), the most progressive sultan 
in Ottoman history, first declared the desire and neces- 
sity for a change, and paid with his life. Gentle and 
good beyond his time, perhaps beyond ours as well, he 
was powerless to resist the tremendous momentum of an 
old and gigantic empire which finally crushed him and 
his reform. Although his successor, Mahmoud II 
(1808-39) , wrote Selim's progressive ideas in blood and 
terrorized opposition into mute obedience before he 
started his reforms, still it took a hundred years more to 
put reform, even political reform, into shape. 

The necessity of reform, born at first in the minds of 
the few, showed at the same time to these minds the 
tremendous distance between the Ottoman Empire and 
the European states, a distance which the empire had to 
cover as fast as possible. She was so placed geograph- 
ically that she was pressed by the surplus energies of the 
Mediterranean peoples and by the growth and upheaval 

236 



THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM 

of the Slavs. There is no nation in the world more in 
need of a cool head, a strong power of defense, and a 
pacific development of its internal resources. 

Change and reform in nations follow two courses: 
first, the speedy and bloody course of revolution; second, 
a gradual growth from within, with little apparent dis- 
turbance and bloodshed, although the struggle may be 
long and painful. 

The first demands revolutionaries who pull down the 
entire edifice of a country, who in their bloody rage 
destrov useful institutions as well as those that are cor- 
rupt and decayed. Revolution is the speediest way, it 
takes a long time to set up a better state in a place which 
revolution has ravaged. The supreme example of re- 
form by revolution was set by France. 

The second, the way of gradual growth from within, 
is the happier way for a nation which can gradually 
evolve her reforms, before new ideas take destructive 
forms or fall into the hands of unscrupulous and ambi- 
tious leaders. England has provided the supreme ex- 
ample of gradual reform and change. 

Mahmoud II, cruel in temperament, influenced by the 
French Revolution, frightened by the tragic end of his 
predecessor, haunted by the vision of the Ottoman Em- 
pire crushed between the East and the West, and torn 
by internal disorder and decay, was naturally led to 
take the most destructive methods. He therefore 
began by massacring a whole army of janizaries, who 
seemed the only obvious obstacle to change. 

Mahmoud II is called the Peter the Great of the 

237 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Turks, but he deserves as much criticism as praise. Un- 
fortunately he applied the new spirit with the methods of 
his bloodiest and most tyrannical ancestors. His reign 
is one of the most disastrous in our history. 

It was Abdul Medjid (1839-56) and his remarkable 
trio of premiers who started a newer and more modern 
reform. 

Abdul Medjid, who was very much like Selim III in 
desire for reform and in humane temperament, was 
first helped by Reshid Pasha, a man who had been 
premier, minister of foreign affairs, and several times 
ambassador to Paris and London. Reshid Pasha 
showed himself modern in method as well as in spirit 
when he instituted his political reform of 1839, the Tan- 
zimat. 

Its fundamental principles were the security of life 
and property, the supremacy of the law, the organiza- 
tion of taxes, the equality of rights of all the citizens. 
There is a strong and sincere note in the Tanzimat edict, 
although it is clumsily written, and ends with a naive 
curse against those who contravene it. 

The Tanzimat was evolutionary and progressive in 
spirit rather than radical, and it is the sole reform in 
the history of Turkey which was not only pacific but 
constructive and effective. Strange to say the edict's 
final curse seems to have affected all the leaders who 
have departed from its liberal spirit and have adopted 
Mahmoud's radical and bloody method. 

The first principle of the Tanzimat, security of life, 
was of supreme importance to the Turkish people. 

238 



THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM 

After the time of the wise early rulers who obeyed the 
law, and who realized the necessity of respecting human 
life, the people suffered cruelly under later rulers who 
were intoxicated with power, and wasted human life and 
property. In addition to the royal caprices whish made 
the finest and best lose their lives by the mere order of 
the sultan, ministers and governors carelessly and cal- 
lously wasted human life in Turkey. There are signif- 
icant anecdotes * that illustrate the continual horror 
which the people felt at the insecurity of life. At last, 
however, the realization came to the sultan that . no 
growth or stability was possible without security of life, 
and this was now insured by the Tanzimat. 

The equality of non-Moslems appears at first to have 
been provided for more because of political reasons than 
of urgent necessity. The non-Moslems had rather en- 
joyed privileges than suffered from the general social 
and political disorder of the Moslem communities. 
Omar, 2 the third calif after the Prophet, at his 

i A kadi appointed to a province went to make his formal visit to the 
governor. During the visit the attendants of the governor brought in a 
man's head freshly cut off and reported that the governor's order to behead 
his housekeeper had been carried out. The kadi inquired about the man's 
crime. "The fellow frightened me in my dream last night," was the an- 
swer. The next day the kadi gathered his belongings and made haste to 
depart. When the reason was asked he said, "I cannot prevent myself from 
appearing in the governor's dream." 

A vizir going through the streets incognito was accidentally splashed 
by some drops of dirty water from a barber shop. He ordered the barber 
to be put to death instantly. When he was told that the man was his 
own barber, "Kill some other barber instead," he said; "a vizir's order 
must be carried out." 

-' The califate, which was in a sense a religious republic during the first 
century of the Hejira, showed great toleration for the non-Moslems of the 
conquered lands. Omar's entry into Jerusalem and his treatment of the 

239 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

conquest of Jerusalem had issued an edict giving to 
all the non-Moslems security of life and property and 
freedom with two restrictions: they were required to 
adopt a special costume, and were not allowed to ride 
on horseback in the city. Mohammed the Conqueror 
(1453) after his conquest of Constantinople had con- 
firmed Christian rights and recognized the liberty of the 
Christians as a community apart. As the Christians 
were exempt from military service, they held in their 
hands the commerce of the empire, so that they continu- 
ally multiplied and grew, for the edicts of the Con- 
queror and the traditions of Omar were respected. I 
know of no other country where the minorities were so 
safe and prosperous during the centuries before they 
had so-called equal rights. 

I have already mentioned that the second part of the 
reform was of political necessity. When the empire 
became weak, when it became bewildered with internal 
and external difficulties, greedy eyes from outside 
turned to Turkey and found a loophole in the nominal 

non-Moslems is one of the most beautiful and humane episodes in history, 
especially when one compares it with the wholesale massacre of the Moslems 
by the Crusaders; according to the "New International Encyclopaedia," vol. 
6, p. 385, "Neither age nor sex could mollify their implacable rage: they 
indulged themselves three days in a promiscuous massacre; seventy thou- 
sand Moslems were put to the sword." 

On the other hand, a remarkable story told of Omar illustrates the kind- 
ness and simplicity of the man and the spirit of Islam at the period. 
When the Saracen army entered Jerusalem the patriarch took the key of 
the city and walked out in order to pay his respects and offer the key to 
the commander-in-chief. As he approached the camel of the commander- 
in-chief, the man whom he took for Omar addressed him, saying: "This 
is Omar's camel, but I am his slave. He has one single camel, and we take 
turns. It is his turn to walk. Walk on; you will see him coming on foot." 

240 




as 
< 
H 
U 
o 

S3 

■A 
< 

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A 



THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM 

inequality of the Christian minorities. Russia's pre- 
text was found in the Orthodox Christians, as England's 
was the Armenians later on. 

At the time of the Tanzimat, Russia, as the protector 
of the Orthodox Christians, was pressing Turkey ; Eng- 
land, which was at the other side of the political bal- 
ances, wanted Turkey to hold her own against Russia. 

Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the English ambassador 
to Turkey, now played an important part in Turkish 
politics. He influenced Reshid Pasha on many points 
of policy, and probably the provision of equality of 
rights for Christians was due to him. The Turkish peo- 
ple were used to respecting the lives and the property 
of a minority, who were almost like religious trusts to 
them and who went their way without sharing the mil- 
itary burdens of the ruling race. This tolerance had 
its roots in the chivalrous attitude of the master to the 
inferior as well as in the broad spirit of Islam toward 
alien religions. But the moment the Christians were 
granted equality by an edict, without sharing responsi- 
bility as the soldier citizens of the state, the social order 
and the old tolerant tradition was upset. Reshid Pasha, 
knowing all this clearly, evidently undertook the pre- 
mature consolidation of the external policy of the em- 
pire. As I have already said, it was due to the influence 
of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the English ambassador 
of the time ; I will add that he also represented the best 
and the most lasting impressions of England in the 
minds of the general Turkish public. He created such 
a sincere trust and admiration for the justice and the 

241 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

nobility of the English character that neither Abdul 
Hamid's anti-British policy nor the World War could 
efface it till the English army occupation, short as its 
duration was, erased the good impression from the pop- 
ular mind. 

Abdul Med j id was almost alone when he put forth 
his ideas of reform. The men who stood by him, 
though few, were strong and determined. Reshid 
Pasha especially, striving superhumanly to effect the 
change, knew very well the difficulty, indeed almost the 
impossibility, of making the masses understand the 
necessity of the new order of things. As individuals 
and as classes the Turks were to leap into an entirely 
different order of things, socially and mentally; and this 
was not to be done by the old method of bloody terror. 
In Abdul Med j id, for the first time a sultan of Turkey 
was going to use moral authority to persuade his sub- 
jects. With the example of Selim II before his eyes, 
Reshid Pasha, on whose shoulders the whole responsibil- 
ity of the reform rested, was aware of the immediate 
personal danger in which he stood, for failure would at 
once have caused the nation to demand his head. On 
the memorable morning of the day he had to read the 
edict, he answered his steward, who tried to consult him 
about household affairs, in this vtfry sentence: "If I 
return alive in the evening thou canst ask me." 

Reshid Pasha and his successors, Ali and Fuad 
Pashas, all spent their life energy and their extraor- 
dinary power of mind and will into converting these 
edicts of reform and progress into actual fact. It was 

242 



THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM 

a hard fight, but all three were men of unflinching cour- 
age and tenacity, all three were men of unyielding ideal 
and honesty, all three died, spent and exhausted before 
their time. 

As progressives rather than as radicals, determined to 
carry out the reform without the usual method of terror, 
their difficulties were enormous. Besides internal re- 
sistance from privileged classes and persons, they had to 
face externally the Egyptian question, the Syrian revo- 
lution, and the Russian wars. To crown it all, the sul- 
tan, although sincere in his desire for progress, objected 
to the transfer of power from the palace to the Porte, 
and many were the old pashas who influenced the sul- 
tan's mind against the powerful trio. Yet the royal 
edict worked its way gradually. Half a century later, 
far on in my childhood, I clearly remember that the 
equality of races was realized despite the despotic reign 
of Abdul Hamid. 

The Tanzimat period, which brought the first serious 
political reforms, also produced a wide change in the 
language, literature, and thought of the country. 
Modern Europe was furnishing a new current of 
thought and was creating a new spirit in Turkish writ- 
ing. The European culture which was most influential 
in Turkey was decidedly French, the poetes philosophes. 
The nightingale and the eternal rose, the spring, and 
nature themes of literature were giving way to a wider 
range of subjects and a new way of looking at man 
and nature, while the inward change in all direc- 
tions was leading writers to search for directer and 

243 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

clearer expression in language. Translations from the 
French were introducing models of French art and 
thought. It was Shinassi, a poet and author of the 
time, who first brought to modern Turkish prose a com- 
plete change, making it very different from the loose 
form of the old prose. A younger generation — Namik 
Kemal, Abdul Hak Hamid, Zia Pasha — blossomed out 
with a series of dramas, poems, stories, and satires which 
are considered classical in the Turkish literature of 
to-day. 

This tardy renaissance has not produced masterpieces 
of world renown in Turkey, but it has produced works 
which are regarded as great. Besides it represented 
an admirable effort of human thought and a conscious 
break from the old in form and spirit, as well as a highly 
constructive period in Turkish language. There is 
nothing nebulous or incomplete about the work of these 
writers. They wrote with a masterly touch and with 
extraordinary finish; the very translations are a con- 
tinuous source of surprise to me, so brand-new are they, 
and yet so Turkish and perfect. 

The adaptations, especially that of Moliere's "Man- 
age Force," have so recreated the art of Moliere that for 
once a great artist would have been pleased at the per- 
fect shape his masterpieces have taken in an alien cul- 
ture and language. Ahmed Vefik Pasha, besides being 
a famous figure of the Tanzimat as a statesman and ad- 
ministrator, is also notable for having most beautifully 
rendered Moliere's work and spirit into Turkish. 

Ahmed Vefik Pasha as governor of Broussa put forth 

244 



THE PERIOD OF POLITICAL REFORM 

his constructive ability, literary capacity, and adminis- 
trative genius. He not only conducted the administra- 
tion so well that the people of Broussa attributed super- 
human qualities and loved him as only Turks can love, 
with a mixture of idolatrous belief and reverence ; 3 he 
also built the great hospital of the town and endowed it 
with funds, created a theater, becoming its manager, 
writing the plays, training the actors, and forcing the 
notables of the town to attend. Through him Moliere 
became the leading influence in the development of the 
comedy side of the Turkish theater. MolieTe's spirit, 
so different from that of the other French classical 
writers, so human and full of common sense, made an 
immediate appeal to the simple and sound humor of the 
ordinary Turk, for not only in "Orta Oyoun" but even 
in the "Karaguez" one finds the traces of his wit and 
spirit. 

3 A peasant woman who had lost a watch came to Vefik Pasha. She had 
heard that the governor could find out anything when he put on his monocle. 
The pasha, after questioning the woman about the size and appearance of 
the watch, sent some one to buy a watch from the market. As he handed 
the watch to the peasant woman he said solemnly, "It is true that I can see 
everything that happens in this province when I put on my single glass, 
but the next time you lose something you must come and see me immedi- 
ately." 



245 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE YOUNG TURKS 

HARDLY twenty years had passed after the 
Tanzimat reform, and the men who instituted 
it were still in power, struggling painfully 
to carry it out, when a younger generation of writers 
and thinkers went a step further and demanded a con- 
stitution. An absolute monarchy with a mere royal 
edict to guarantee the personal rights of citizens did 
not satisfy them any more. They demanded represen- 
tation; they wanted a national assembly. The political 
ideals of the Reshid Pasha trio appeared old ; these men 
were influenced by the fresher ideals of the French 
revolutionaries. Under the leadership of Mehemed 
Bey, Namik Kemal, and Noury (whom I have already 
mentioned), with some other young thinkers of note, 
they formed a secret society called the Young Ottomans. 
Their meeting at Sancta Sophia was found out by the 
government, and they escaped to Paris to avoid punish- 
ment. All the Ottoman students in Paris as well as the 
French youth who were opposed to Napoleon III 
joined them, and they were favorably received in French 
circles. The name of Young Turks was given to the 
Young Ottomans at this period. The leader and rep- 
resentative of the Young Turks in politics, the man 

246 



THE YOUNG TURKS 

who was to carry out their ideals in politics, was Midhat 
Pasha. 

The political adherents of the Young Turks in Con- 
stantinople decided to dethrone Abdul Aziz (1861-76), 
the successor of Abdul Med j id; and they had an under- 
standing, on which they founded considerable hopes, 
with Murad, the heir to the throne, who promised to 
call a national assembly. Abdul Aziz was dethroned 
and committed suicide in 1876. This was taken as a 
pretext by the reactionaries and Abdul Hamid to accuse 
the constitutional reform cabinet of having murdered 
Abdul Aziz. Sultan Murad V, on whom the Young 
Turk party depended, became mentally deranged 
after a reign of three months, which left the throne 
for Abdul Hamid in 1876. The new sultan affected 
a liberal attitude and promised to call a national as- 
sembly. The Young Turks returned from Paris, and 
Namik Kemal published the newspaper "Ibret," which 
became the medium of expression for liberty and prog- 
ress. 

Midhat Pasha as the prime minister called a council 
to draft the constitution, with Namik Kemal as one of 
the members. After six months of labor the council 
presented a draft. 

Midhat Pasha announced the constitution to the peo- 
ple by a royal edict of Abdul Hamid, which he caused 
to be read in the big open place behind the Sublime 
Porte. The historian Abdurrahman Sheref, who died 
recently at the age of eighty-four, having lived through 
the great reform, tells of the event in his "Historical 

247 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Talks." "It was a rainy day, but the place was full. 
I had to push and be pushed by elbows and umbrellas 
till I found myself a place near the pulpit. The secre- 
tary, Mahmoud Bey, read the edict, and Midhat Pasha 
gave a benedictional speech. It was the only time I had 
seen and heard Midhat Pasha, and I still remember 
the tremor and the emotion of his voice. . . . Later 
on as a young liberal I took an active part in the 
elections which were to take place for the first time in 
Turkey. The old men in my quarter were extremely 
cautious and hesitating. When one of them had to sign 
the voting paper he said, 'My son, I owe some arrears 
of tax; will they take it from me if I sign?' " 

Although Abdurrahman Sheref by this sentence 
showed how little prepared the people were for repre- 
sentative government, still as one reads the accounts 
of the parliamentary discussions and speeches of the 
first assembly, which lived only a few months, one is 
struck by the courageous and liberal spirit of the mem- 
bers. Their denunciation of tyranny is surprising and 
gives one the idea that some of the men at least were 
ripe for constitutionalism. 

Before the national assembly met in Constantinople, 
Abdul Hamid in a moment of fear betrayed the tyran- 
nical side of his nature by arresting Midhat Pasha and 
sending him out of Turkey. The assembly, for which 
Midhat Pasha suffered so much, opened in the last 
months of 1876 and was dissolved in 1877, the pretext 
for its dissolution being the Russian war and Turkey's 
internal diffculties. 

248 



THE YOUNG TURKS 

In 1878 the general amnesty brought back Midhat 
Pasha ; he was appointed governor first to the Rumelian 
provinces, and then to Damascus and Syria. His 
achievements as a governor are unique. A series of 
public works, a real conception of good and just ad- 
ministration unparalleled before and after, a modern 
attitude toward accepting the equality of individual 
rights of all citizens are the traditions he has left be- 
hind him. But his high ideals and unsullied integrity 
were to be his undoing, for these were the characteristics 
that the treacherous and sinister mind of Abdul Hamid 
most feared and hated. It was while Midhat Pasha 
was governor of Smyrna that he was summoned to 
Yildiz, there to appear before the Supreme Court, which 
charged him with the murder of Abdul Aziz. Forged 
evidence was brought against him, paid witnesses per- 
jured themselves freely, and Midhat Pasha was con- 
demned to death, when, to the surprise of all, Abdul 
Hamid, suddenly assuming the guise of the merciful 
monarch, commuted his sentence to imprisonment for 
life. He was sent to the dungeons of Taif with some 
other members of his cabinet. Hardly two years passed 
when Abdul Hamid, once more frightened at the pos- 
sibility of Midhat Pasha's release, sent Riza Pasha, who 
was his minister of war for vears; and Riza Pasha had 
Midhat Pasha, with a few others sentenced at the Yildiz 
trial, strangled in the dungeons of Taif. Thus died 
Midhat Pasha, one of the greatest of Turkish patriots, 
paying the highest price which Turks have paid for 
patriotism. 

249 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Namik Kemal's newspaper was stopped, but he, with 
Noury Bey, Zia Pasha, and some other Turkish writers, 
was at the head of the Guedik Pasha Theater, present- 
ing their translated or created plays, when Namik 
Kemal's "Vatan" (Fatherland) was produced. It 
caused such an outburst of applause that an enormous 
mass of people followed Namik Kemal home, applaud- 
ing and shouting, "Long live Vatan, long live Liberty." 
The very next night at the second presentation of the 
play Namik Kemal was arrested and exiled, where 
he also had to expiate his love and service to his 
country. 

A dark reign of tyranny and of despotism, a system 
of terror and espionage, is the story of the rest of Abdul 
Hamid's reign. The words "patriotism," "fatherland," 
and other expressions of liberty were abolished from 
the dictionaries; the collections of Tanzimat literature 
were destroyed wherever they were found and the 
owners punished with perpetual banishment. A few 
newspapers were published, beginning with a prayer 
for the sultan and filling the rest of their pages with 
lists of promotions and articles on science or travel. 

These were the papersi I saw in my childhood and 
early youth. All the great leaders had expired and left 
the sultan supreme. Most of the Young Turks with 
some exceptions had lost either their ideals or their 
hopes. Some used their liberal views as a pretext to 
extract money from the sultan; it was in some cases 
political blackmail. In fact very few of the figures 
who emerged during the revolution of 1908 were found 

250 



THE YOUNG TURKS 

among the political refugees in Europe; they were not 
Europeanized men such as the Tanzimatists and the 
first Young Turks. There was an anonymous and 
strong revolutionary element, with vaguer tendencies 
of mind, who translated such thought as they had 
into action with the energy and ferocious power of the 
Macedonians. At the beginning of 1908 no serious 
likelihood could be seen that the regime would be op- 
posed. The Turkish people had to grin and bear the 
existing state of things, which was then of thirty years' 
standing. 



251 



CHAPTER IX 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

ON the morning of July 11, 1908, I was sitting 
in the spacious hall of Antigone, with my old 
friends from Beshiktash, Auntie Peyker and 
her husband Hamdi Effendi. Their son was the young 
officer who had escaped to Europe and joined the Young 
Turks, and they often came to me to talk of him and to 
get his letters, for they corresponded with him through 
an American friend of mine. They had no hope of 
ever seeing their son alive. Hamidian rule had a 
finality and inevitability which made one almost laugh 
at the idea that it could be changed by a few pamphlets 
published occasionally in Paris and sent to Constanti- 
nople in secret. 

I well remember the silence before Salih Zeki Bey 
came into the hall with the morning paper open in his 
hands. Granny, who lived with me at the time, was 
peacefully settled on the corner sofa. 

Salih Zeki Bey walked slowly, his eyes on the first 
page of the paper, and with a strange look of surprise 
on his face. Then he read aloud the imperial com- 
munique of four lines. The cringing praise of the sul- 
tan was even more exaggerated than usual, but the 

252 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

communique was written in concise terms and said that 
his Majesty the sultan was to restore the constitution 
of 1876. 

As we listened in the old-fashioned hall, with the 
wide stretch of wonderful blue sea expanding behind 
a line of dark green pines, consternation overcame us. 

The old pair sat in silence, the tears rolling down 
their wrinkled cheeks. Laconic as were those lines, they 
transfigured the minds of these old people with the 
radiant hope that they might see their son again. 
Granny, who hardly understood the meaning, looked 
over her spectacles as she asked: 

"What does it mean, Halide?" 

What did it mean? I hardly realized that a long 
scene of heaven and hell was to be enacted in the 
smothered land of Turkey and that I was to be called 
to act, to suffer, to knock my foolish young head against 
the realities of life, struggling endlessly, watching the 
interminable tragedy to its bitter end. This was to be 
my education in life after my education in school. 

But now to return to our little group. The subject 
seemed alien and hard to discuss. The word "consti- 
tution," after its exile from the dictionary, was now 
suddenly used again in an imperial communique. The 
indestructibility of thought is marvelous; it is always 
there, blind to individual suffering and cost, boring its 
way from mind to mind, leaping large gaps and periods ; 
but triumphant always, it marches on regardless of 
time, ceaselessly developing and maturing in the mind 
of man. 

253 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Here is a short resume of the events which had led 
to the communique of July 11, 1908. 

Abdul Hamid, in the sham trial and assassination of 
Midhat Pasha, had dealt a heavy blow to the constitu- 
tional ideal in Turkey. His thirty years' reign was a 
systematic suppression of all hopes of reform , free 
thought, and speech. Still desire for representative 
government flickered in individual minds but with no 
effective result. The Young Turks continued their or- 
ganization in Paris; but with divided leadership, and 
with their inability to take any positive action in Turkey, 
all their labors failed to help the sorry state of things in 
that country. 

Only Saloniki, the central city of Macedonia, which 
had a special administrative system of its own that 
was superior to any other in the empire, seemed at all 
favorable to the expression of freer thought. In fact it 
was here that the constitutional ideal found its first 
serious organization in 1906. 

It was the secret organization of the freemasons 
which served the revolutionaries as a model. Talaat, 
Maniassi Zade Refik, Djavid, Rahmi, Midhat Shukri 
Beys are some of the best known names of the men 
who started the secret revolutionary society under the 
name of Liberty in 1906. The liaison between the 
Young Turks in Paris and the Young Turks in Mace- 
donia was to be maintained by Dr. Nazim. On his 
arrival the name of the society was changed to Union 
and Progress. Some of the young officers of the Third 
Army Corps joined it immediately and became the vital 

254, 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

force of the organization; among the most active of 
these were Enver, Ismail Hakki, Eyoub Sabri, Kiazim 
Karabekir, Fethi, Niazi, Moustafa Kemal, Djafer 
Tayyar, and Djemal Beys. But the names which were 
most celebrated at the time were those of Fethi, Niazi, 
and Enver. The only woman member was Emine 
Semie Hanura, the daughter of the famous historian 
Djevdet Pasha, and a well known woman writer. 

From 1906 to 1907 it passed through a feverish 
propaganda period, enlisting new members and organ- 
izing its centers in Monastir, Euskub, Resne, and some 
other towns in Macedonia. The Central Committee 
was in Saloniki, and the first members included Talaat 
and Djemal, the two most important figures of the 
party. 

Abdul Hamid heard of it in 1907 and began imme- 
diate steps, trying to remove the suspected officers from 
Saloniki, and sending in his spies, as well as also some 
regiments from Smyrna, to crush the organization. 

The Young Turks immediately passed to action by 
shooting Shemsi Pasha, who seemed determined and 
able to fight them; it was also desirable to remove 
Marshal Osman Pasha from the scene of action, but 
the fact that he was a national hero and a genuinely 
fine commander made them wish to spare his life; he 
was therefore kidnapped and kept out of the way. 
When the regiments from Smyrna also passed over to 
the revolutionary camp, things looked serious. 

On July 10, 1908, Resne, Euskub, and Monastir 
declared the constitution under Niazi and Enver, and 

255 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

telegraphed to Abdul Hamid demanding the official 
declaration of the constitution and threatening a march 
on Constantinople with the Third Army Corps in case 
of refusal. The short communique of July 11, 1908, 
was its outcome. 

The history of the first two years of Union and Pro- 
gress deserves to be carefully written. Its spirit and 
its message to Turkey, which turned the tide of events 
for good and evil, must be recorded in its own virile 
and forcible tones. Although I have known most of 
the leading figures well and for a long time, and some 
have told me its early history, still in 1908 I was totally 
ignorant of its existence. It is for them to tell the 
story of their pioneer years. I go back to my hall in 
Antigone and take up the moment when Salih Zeki 
Bey read the communique. 

What was the effect of this thunderbolt in the city 
of Istamboul? How would the city act, or how had it 
already acted? These were the enigmas we tried to 
solve that morning. 

It was Hussein Jahid who brought us the news in 
the evening. The city had looked hesitatingly at the 
constitution so suddenly and simply announced. The 
people gathered at street corners and tried to talk in 
undertones, but there was a feeling of uncertainty, even 
of distrust, a vague questioning as to the meaning of 
this sudden change; some went so far as to take it for 
a trap in which to catch the people of Istamboul. 
Hussein Jahid had written enthusiastic editorials for 

256 




A VERY OT.T) STREET IX SCUTARI 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

"Sabah" and "Ikdam," the two prominent papers of 
the capital, for the next morning. 

We had a sleepless night, sometimes talking but 
mostly thinking. I wandered restlessly in the large 
hall, walking out into the warm July night that was 
so sweet and balmy. Something invisible and new in 
the air haunted us. We had queer dreams and visions 
about the terror and blood which accompany revolutions, 
but we did not allow them utterance. 

The words "equality, liberty, justice, and fraternity" 
sounded most strange. Fraternity was added on 
account of the Christians. The great ideals of Tanzi- 
mat, expressed as the Union of the Elements, had taken 
this familiar form. There had never been a more 
passionate desire in the peoples of Turkey to love each 
other, to work for the realization of this new Turkey, 
where a free government and a free life was to start. 

Poor granny was restless. "No good comes out of 
new things. What you call constitution was given at 
the time of Midhat Pasha, and he lost his head for it," 
she said. 

In the evening of July 12, Hussein Jahid brought us 
news from the city once more. Usually so impassive 
and calm, he also seemed affected by the enthusiasm of 
the city. The papers might have been printed on gold- 
leaf, so high were the prices paid for them. People 
were embracing each other in the streets in mad re- 
joicing. Hussein Jahid smilingly added, "I had to 
wash my face well in the evening, for hundreds who did 

257 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

not know me from Adam, hundreds whom I have never 
seen, kissed me as I walked down the road of the Sub- 
lime Porte ; the ugly sides of revolution, vengeance and 
murder, will not stain ours." 

The next day I went down to see Istamboul. The 
scene on the bridge caught me at once. There was a 
sea of men and women all cockaded in red and white, 
flowing like a vast human tide from one side to the 
other. The tradition of centuries seemed to have lost 
its effect. There was no such thing as sex or personal 
feeling. Men and women in a common wave of en- 
thusiasm moved on, radiating something extraordinary, 
laughing, weeping in such intense emotion that human 
deficiency and ugliness were for the time completely 
obliterated. Thousands swayed and moved on. Be- 
fore each official building there was an enormous crowd 
calling to the minister to come out and take the oath of 
allegiance to the new regime. 

As I drove along the Sublime Porte the butchers of 
Istamboul were leaving its austere portals in their white 
chemises. They also had come to get assurance from 
the highest that this new joy was to be safeguarded 
and that they, the butchers, also were going to share in 
this great task. 

In three days the whole empire had caught the fever 
of ecstasy. No one seemed clear about its meaning. 
The news of the change had come from Saloniki 
through several young officers whose names were 
shouted as its symbol. To the crowd the change in its 
clearest sense spelled the pulling down of a regime which 

258 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL, REVOLUTION OF 1908 

meant oppression, corruption, and tyranny, while the 
new, whatever it was, spelled happiness and freedom. 

I went down to the city twice that week and came 
back stirred to the very depths of my being. The mot- 
ley rabble, the lowest pariahs, were going about in a 
sublime emotion, with tears running down their un- 
washed faces, the shopkeepers joining the procession 
without any concern for their goods. There seemed to 
be no thieves and no criminals. Dr. Riza Tewfik and 
Selim Sirry paraded their handsome figures on horse- 
back, solving the judicial difficulties of the people with 
long speeches. It looked like the millennium. 

In every street corner some one stood up on a chair 
or on the box of a carriage and made a speech to an ad- 
miring crowd. One man with a long red beard har- 
angued the people near the bridge with those words: 

"I have a beloved wife and five children. I swear 
that I am ready to cut them to pieces for the sacred 
cause as I would have done for his Majesty." 

I wondered why he did not cut himself rather than 
his wife and children and why he felt so deeply in love 
with his Majesty at this particular moment. The man 
was our neighbor and became a deputy for Siverek in 
the elections. I believe that it was sheer hysteria which 
made him speak so at the moment. But the most popu- 
lar speaker of the day was Riza Tewfik. As the Ha- 
midian police were entirely cowed by the fear of the 
mob and did not dare to interfere, it was Riza Tewfik 
who marched on horseback and kept in order the mob 
which followed him, by speaking all the time. He was 

259 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

perfectly hoarse at the end of the week, so much so 
that when he came to see us in Antigone he spoke in 
whispers. A young friend of Salih Zeki Bey's who had 
heard him speak to a crowd of Kurdish porters in Istam- 
boul used to mimic this whole scene with great effect. 
Here is some of the speech as he purported to have 
heard it: 

"Tell us what constitution means," the porters had 
shouted. 

"Constitution is such a great thing that those who do 
not know it are donkeys," answered the speaker. 

"We are donkeys," roared the porters. 

"Your fathers also did not know it. Say that you are 
the sons of donkeys," added Dr. Riza Tewfik. 

"We are the sons of donkeys," roared the porters 
again. 

In the general enthusiasm and rebirth I became a 
writer. Istamboul in the enchantment and beauty of 
the first days reminded me of a line of Tewfik Fikret, 
from his "Mist." He had written it in secret, and it 
had circulated from hand to hand in the old days. The 
poet, looking through the enchanted mist of Istamboul, 
had seen all that was incurable, unclean, and evil in the 
hearts and lives of its dwellers, and painting it in lurid 
word-coloring, he had asked, "Among the millions who 
live in thy heart, how many spirits will rise pure and 
luminous?" 

The mist with all the evil and unclean spirit had dis- 
persed, and the people were in the throes of a marvelous 
spiritual rebirth. 

260 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

The newspaper "Tanine" appeared on July 20, 1908. 
Tewfik Fikret and Hussein Jahid edited it together, and 
they had a staff composed of the ablest and best known 
writers of the day. Salih Zeki Bey was to collaborate in 
its scientific departments, and I was to write in its 
literary columns. 

The paper had almost all the writers of the Edebiati- 
Djedide (New Literature) school. They were consid- 
ered the great writers of the period, and their greatest 
figure as man and poet was Tewfik Fikret. 

Edebiati-Djedide, which arose in the worst part of 
Abdul Hamid's reign, when the very words with which 
to express free ideas could not be used, was still in 
spirit a continuation of the Namik Kemal and Tanzi- 
mat schools. They continued transfusing Western cul- 
ture into Turkish ideas as best they could. Halid Zia, 
the first modern Turkish novelist, a follower of Paul 
Bourget but an original and powerful short story writer, 
and Jenab Shehabbeddine, a clever prose writer and a 
remarkable lyric poet, were in the staff of "Tanine." 

Riza Tewfik had read and made me acquainted with 
the school, through their writings in "Servet-Funoun," 
a popular literary magazine of the time. Hussein Ja- 
hid as the strongest and most powerful critic, indeed 
the unique critic of the last twenty years, was also one 
of the personalities of the literary school. Although 
his prose was considered in the first rank, he appeared 
to me in his literary attempts to be either too sentimen- 
tal or too didactic. Hampered in his style and fettered 
in his thoughts by the censor, as he himself expressed 

261 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

it, he realized his powers fully in his political writings 
during the Unionist regime after 1908. The school was 
fiercely attacked by the old writers for its imitation of 
European culture, and had been equally criticized by 
my contemporaries for lack of personality. But it must 
have succeeded in transmitting a new message and a 
new life in its work, for the new age looked up to it 
as the intellectual representative of the day. 

To my mind neither Edebiati-Djedide nor the 
younger writers of whom I shall speak more fully later 
have recreated, in their writings, the Turkish life of 
the times and its inner psychology, so well as some of 
the oldest Turkish chroniclers had done of their own 
time. Naima shows in one single revolutionary scene 
a singular power of representing the setting as well as 
the thoughts and the feelings of his time, with an un- 
derstanding which would sound true and real in any 
age, although the Turkish prose of the period in its 
loose and primitive form of the day was hardly a fit in- 
strument to express such a perfect picture of real life. 
Both Edebiati-Djedide and my own contemporaries 
lacked that supreme genius which creates life from 
within without binding itself to schools, styles, or ten- 
dencies in fashion. 

To me, at the time of which I speak, it was flattering 
to collaborate with the famous writers of the day ; I was 
entirely unknown and was just at the beginning of my 
career as a writer. 

"Tanine" appeared as an event in the country. No 
other paper had such a brilliant position, such an enor- 

262 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

mous sale and popularity ; but before three months had 
passed the entire hatred of the opposition focused 
against it. The reading of the consecutive issues of 
"Tanine" in 1908 and 1909 would give one a very fair 
idea of the new life, the good and the bad tendencies 
which started with the revolution. 

Tewfik Fikret and Hussein Jahid were the leading 
forces of the paper in the first years. It sounds strange 
to write in 1925 that I have never seen Tewfik Fikret. 
I was not emancipated enough to go to the newspaper 
offices, and I saw only a few men among the most in- 
timate friends of Salih Zcki Bey and my father; but 
I have carefully followed Fikret's career, which had 
throughout an important effect upon the currents of 
thought in Turkey. 

The personality of Tewfik Fikret was that of an 
apostle. His passionate belief in humanity and inter- 
national understanding allied him more with the first 
promoters of the constitution and with the Tanzimatists 
rather than with the Young Turks of 1908. He stood 
for the Ottoman ideal of the Union of the Elements, 
or the fraternity doctrine. He was a great patriot and 
believed in a high standard of Ottoman citizenship; he 
never fell under the influence of the nationalist tend- 
encies which, from different causes and events, shaped 
Turkey in the later years. Tewfik Fikret's personal 
austerity and lofty morality made him a very effective 
example for the youth of Turkey. He presented the 
spectacle of a clean and very moral man without reli- 
gion, which is a rarity in Turkey. 

263 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Tewfik Fikret attacked above all else these two 
things: tyranny and religion. Being a man sans peur 
et sans reproche, he did not realize the social and indi- 
vidual value of religion, its importance in human morals 
and culture, its historic necessity to complete the social 
evolution in the early stages of human society. He saw 
only how men in general suffered from the tyranny and 
the narrow rule of the churches, how men rent each 
other in the name of religion all over the world, and 
what political use they made of creeds and of their gods. 
His famous attack on religion called "History" aroused 
a tremendous storm in religious circles, and he was 
mercilessly attacked by the clericals, both during his 
life and after his death. 

He shared, however, one trait with the Unionists 
and the reactionaries. He was as narrow and as 
merciless as they were to those who deviated from his 
own line in politics and in principles of every kind, 
and he fought them down as ferociously as did his 
opponents. The inflexibility and the rocky resistance 
of the man constituted both his force and his weak- 
ness. 

His later attacks on the Unionists, formerly his 
friends, were quietly received. They had indeed de- 
served his bitter reproaches after the Galata Serai affair 
of which I shall speak later, and the personal respect 
which the Unionists had for 'him, both as an old 
comrade and as a great man, made them tolerant of 
everything he wrote or said. 

So we see that "Tanine" had the benefit of this 

264 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

gigantic energy to fight down the old state of things 
in 1908 and partly in 1909. 

After Fikret had left "Tanine" the second living 
force was Hussein Jahid. An ardent admirer and dis- 
ciple of Fikret in his philosophical tendencies, and a 
fanatical believer in the necessity of the westernization 
of Turkey, he put forth all his intellectual forces in the 
cause of progress. Personally calm, well balanced, 
and reserved, he became ferocious in his polemics against 
the conservatives during the first period of Unionist 
power. His ardent advocacy of the new life and prog- 
ress developed in him to the utmost degree the power 
for sharpness of attack. The antagonistic tone of his 
writings has since mellowed down to a more moderate 
and calmer but much more effective pitch. 

He had the same intense feeling against the separatist 
influence of religion that Fikret had. He seriously be- 
lieved in the separation of church and state but was not 
able to stand up for it in his paper on account of the 
immense reactionary passion which his publications and 
the revolution aroused. After the Balkan War he 
showed decided nationalistic tendencies which separated 
him from Fikret. 

The Unionists had come to a superficial understand- 
ing with two different minority revolutionary societies : 
the Tashnaks, the Armenian revolutionary leaders; and 
the Macedonians, led by their famous chiefs, Sandoski 
and Panitcha. 1 The Albanian and the various Arabic 

i He was recently killed by a Bulgarian girl in Vienna during a theatrical 
performance. 

265 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

revolutionary societies were in the making and had not 
been considered at all. In fact the active and vital ele- 
ments of the Unionists were largely influenced by the 
narrow and somewhat violent principles of the Tashnaks 
and the Macedonians. The Armenians massacring the 
Turks in Eastern Anatolia and Adana, the Turks mas- 
sacring the Armenians in the same regions, the Bul- 
garians massacring the Turks in the Balkans were 
animated by the same spirit. On the other hand, Russia 
or any other imperialistic power of the West that needed 
free and unoccupied ground for economic and political 
penetration inflamed and encouraged the conflicts of 
the Near-Eastern races with all the means at its com- 
mand. 

The Young Turks stepped into power without having 
studied the strength of the separatist tendencies, or the 
way to deal with them in case the constitution of 1876, 
which they were restoring, should fail to solve the fear- 
fully complicated Ottoman dilemma. Turkey was an 
empire; the new leaders were at heart unconsciously 
empire men with a moderate constitutional ideal which 
accorded representation to all; and they did not realize 
their responsibilitiy in any other important issue. The 
fixed idea, that once representative government is es- 
tablished all the old evils will be cured, blinded them 
to a clear study of the political situation in Europe and 
in their own country. The enthusiastic wave of ap- 
proval and sympathy which the peoples of Europe sent 
us created a sense of security at first, and no one saw 
that behind the generosity of peoples there is the 

266 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

rapacity of governments, till Turkey began to be at- 
tacked on all sides in the very midst of her reform 
struggles. The annexations of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
Crete, and the Rumelian provinces and the invasion of 
Tripoli succeeded each other in a bewilderingly short 
time. 

During the first weeks of the revolution a large num- 
ber of newspapers appeared, each putting forth a new 
idea at random and each fighting the ideas of another 
paper. It was almost impossible to disentangle and 
detach ideas clearlv and analyze their significance. 
Some have developed into forces for good and evil, and 
others have disappeared equally for good or evil. 

Among the progressive thoughts which "Tanine" 
advocated and which aroused the bitterest opposition 
was that of emancipation of woman. The very men- 
tion of giving her an equal chance in education and of 
elevating her social status enraged the conservatives. 
They did not realize that "Tanine" was not yet a party 
organ and that its ideas about the emancipation of 
women and the complete westernization of all the Turk- 
ish institutions were put forth on its own responsibility. 

The young leaders of the revolution on the other hand 
were politically occupied, struggling to change the 
cabinets which did not suit them and spreading their 
organization all over the empire in a way which was 
changing the center of the executive power, taking it 
from the government organizations and passing it on to 
the party centers. 

267 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

It is important to note that the duality of the execu- 
tive power, only the semblance of which was in the gov- 
ernment while the reality was in the hands of the party 
centers, was heading Turkey for the first time toward 
a party dictatorship. A very old and ardent Unionist 
returning from Russia in 1922 told me humorously that 
the Union and Progress was copied in Russia. "Noth- 
ing new in Russia," he said. "The system is ours what- 
ever the principles are. Except that they have added 
the Cheka and do not possess our governing capacity." 

The Fascist system in Italy and the People's party 
in Turkey are now two rather violent types of the 
Unionist system, with a single man at the head of each, 
instead of the triumvirate and the immediate circle 
around it which ruled the Unionist regime. 

The purely Unionist publications of the party had 
a military and primitive character, and they consisted 
of violent papers with very destructive names: "The 
Thunderbolt," "The Gun," "The Bayonet," etc. 

The elements of the opposition, which started within 
a few months after the revolution, were these: the con- 
servatives, who sincerely feared a radical change which 
might entirely upset the old social order and tear the 
country to pieces; the clericals, who sensed a lay ten- 
dency in the new order of things; the political institu- 
tions of the minorities, including the patriarchate, which 
feared the complete loss of their authority if the Union 
of the Elements principle were realized ; and the powers, 
who, having made their spoliation plans, feared the loss 
of their strategic grounds, if a serious parliamentary 

268 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

government were established and the minorities were 
satisfied. The common and the most explosive 
weapons they used were reactionary, women and reli- 
gion being the supreme ones. Every politician who 
wanted to arouse popular feeling against the new re- 
gime, and all the interests which were concerned to fight 
down the spirit of the revolution, united in playing on 
the fanatical fervor and the reactionary tendencies of 
the Moslem communities. There were, however, a few 
useful tendencies in the opposition, the most important 
being that of Prince Sebahheddine's Decentralization, 
but it got lost in the general whirlpool of ideas and the 
conflict of the newspapers. 2 

The classification of the Unionist forces at the time 
would be something like this: writers like Fikret or 
Jahid who either belonged or did not belong to the 
Union and Progress but stood up for the new order of 
things on account of their progressive ideals; the or- 
ganizers of the Union and Progress, military or civil 
leaders who did not occupy important posts officially 
but interfered in the operation of the government and 
did not allow it to function independently ; a spontane- 
ous propagandist class moving all over the country, 
giving lectures, opening schools and night classes for 
the people, and literary clubs; finally, the floating class 
of men who were spies under Abdul Hamid but liberals 
and business men under the Unionist regime — in short 
men with no color or conviction who pass from one party 

2 The spirit of his program was partial autonomy for different races of 
the empire. 

269 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

in power to another so long as there is some material 
interest to be gained. 

In October we returned to the city. We took a house 
in Istamboul near Nouri-Osmanie, which is central and 
near the schools and the university where Salih Zeki 
Bey taught. As all the printing houses and the news- 
paper offices as well as all the intellectual institutions 
were there, one felt the immense throbbing moments of 
Turkish life around one. I had become a very busy 
journalist and writer in three months. I received a 
great many letters on widely varied subjects. Some- 
times my correspondents asked social questions, some- 
times political ones, but each took care to send me a 
long exposition of his own views. Some of the letters 
were about family problems and secrets; no Catholic 
priest could have received fuller and more candid con- 
fessions than I did during those months. I carefully 
burned them with professional discretion. All my cor- 
respondents may be assured that their personal secrets 
are safe. 

Besides these letters I received visits from a great 
many women belonging to different classes who came 
to me with their personal troubles and asked advice. 
It was through these visits that I first became aware 
of some of the tragic problems of the old social order. 
I am indeed grateful to those humble women who 
brought to me their difficulties in their relations to their 
families and to society. I got much valuable life ma- 
terial from their stories. The surface of the political 

270 



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION OF 1908 

revolution was of passing interest, but the under- 
currents of life, which started in the social depths of 
Turkey, drew me irresistibly into its whirlpool. 

October saw the beginning of the elections, and the 
elections were the panacea put forth by the new system 
for holding the empire together, and for silencing the 
far-off voices of danger which thundered on the horizon. 

The leading figures of all the national groups were 
chosen as deputies in the new parliament. We never 
luid an assembly composed of so many daring and 
famous men; when they gathered together, the atmos- 
phere thus created lacked harmony. Ideals and per- 
sonalities clashed immediately and inevitably. All 
that was alive, vital, and energetic in the country had 
been hurled into the parliament. Though there was 
good will and simplicity in the power which sent them 
there, there was also ignorance about their conflicting 
properties. The Young Turks had every intention of 
creating a series of columns to hold the structure of the 
empire up, but the columns were so varied in size that 
they finally permitted the complete crumbling away of 
the imperial edifice they had sought to uphold. 

"O country, O mother, be thou happy and joyful to- 
day," sang the large and mixed crowd, passing from 
under the windows of my house in Xouri-Osmanie. 
No one who heard it sung in the ecstatic tones of the 
crowds could keep back his tears, so much did it express 
of sincerity and joy. Masses of people followed the 
election urns, decked in flowers and flags. In carriages 

271 



MEMOIRS OF HAEIDE EDIB 

sat the Moslem and Christian priests, hand in hand. 
Christian and Moslem maidens, dressed in white, locked 
in childish embrace, passed on, while the crowd that 
followed sang enthusiastically, "O country, O mother, 
be thou joyful and happy to-day." 

The memory is so intense that to this day I cannot 
think of it unmoved. I think of it as a final embrace of 
love between the simple peoples of Turkey before they 
should be led to exterminate each other for the political 
advantage of foreign powers and their own leaders. 

I found granny crying each time the weird music, 
the singing, ecstatic crowd, passed, and each time she 
shook her head and said: 

"It means the end of everything. No good will come 
out of it; I cannot help crying. It gives me a creepy 
feeling down my spine as if I heard the Mevloud" 
(the sacred poem of Mohammed's birth chanted in 
religious ceremonies). 

I felt exactly the same religious emotion as if I too 
heard the Mevloud chanted. But, alas, the holy babe 
was destined to turn into a monster before it could stand 
on its feet. 

The election quarrels stormed high and low, black- 
mail tainted the opposition, while the Unionist press 
took a truculent and threatening tone. The voices of 
discord were shrieking their loudest while the rep- 
resentatives elected by the peoples and the national 
groups assembled for the parliament — a parliament 
consisting of the most revolutionary spirits of the time, 
and opened by one of the greatest despots in history. 

272 




Alexandre 1'ankoff 



IN ISTAMBOIL 



CHAPTER X 

TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

THE official entry into the parliament of the new 
representatives, in their simple black coats, side 
by side with the brilliant uniforms and the 
jeweled decorations of the Hamidian officials, marked 
the visible passage of Turkey from the old regime to 
the new. As one watched the splendid procession with 
its streak of men in black, one's heart cried out, "Be- 
hold the coming regime!" 

Around that coming regime the storm gathered. At 
first the opposition was concentrated against the po- 
litical organizations and the political writers, but the 
moment was coming when every writer who stood for 
progress without taking sides with any political party 
was to be attacked. For the moment the opposition 
really barred the way to any kind of new thought. 
Instead of concentrating against the rather raw, im- 
petuous, and tactless politics of the Union and Progress, 
the opposition attacked persons and progress. The 
Byzantinism and Levantinism of the opposition went 
to such depths that the non-party element and the 
progressives who were shocked by the intolerance of 
the Unionist party in its narrow attitude nevertheless 
rallied around it, so bitter and personal did the method 
of the opposition appear. On the other hand the party 

273 



MEMOIRS OF HAEIDE EDIB 

in power became deaf and intolerant to even sincere and 
well meant criticism. Lack of liberalism on one side 
and lack of principle on the other gradually destroyed 
the party dictatorship in Turkey. 

It was in January that I received the first but not the 
last danger-signal in the form of an anonymous letter. 
In all my writings I had clearly stated my belief in a 
gradual educational change, in the study and under- 
standing of the difficult social problems of the country, 
and in the necessity of giving the greatest consideration 
to educational reform. As these principles, frankly 
expressed, kept me out of party politics, it was a great 
and an unpleasant surprise to me suddenly to find my- 
self mixed up in them. 

Among the many envelops I have received in my life 
this one stands out in my memory as clearly as -if it 
lay before me as I write. It was white and small and 
contained a card and two small square bits of blank 
paper. On the card there was first an order that I was 
not to write any more to "Tanine," and then followed 
the threat that if I did not obey "the punishment will 
be terrible." I have received many letters of that sort 
and have actually read my own death sentence in 
official print, but I have never before or since been so 
terror-stricken. My hands were cold and damp, and I 
actually felt weak in the knees. 

I can honestly say that I have never felt so cowardly 
and yet so brave, for I did not capitulate before the 
physical terror. I had a clear conviction that those 
who sent me the note were fighting not only the Union 

274 



TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

and Progress but any form of new thought. I realized 
next that it was not only my life which they threatened 
but something else even more terrible for a woman in 
my position. 

When I tried to overcome the physical fear of death 
and the moral fear of being blackmailed in public in 
Old Turkey, I saw my little ones — Hassan Togo 
building a house in bricks, shaking his golden curls hap- 
pily, and Ali Ayetullah watching my face with his 
wonderful deep eyes. I was only twenty-four, and this 
was the price of the literary fame I had acquired in a 
few months. 

I do not know how I lived through the physical and 
mental horror of the succeeding months but I did live 
and write for "Tanine" and the other papers as usual. 
Youth imagines death as an unbelievable horror, but 
youth is difficult to cow even with the vision of death 
and disgrace. It was about this time that I came to 
know a lifelong, honored, and beloved friend in the 
person of Isabel Fry. I had written a letter intended 
as an appeal to the "Nation" which attracted her at- 
tention, and we exchanged letters. Salih Zeki Bey, 
who was in London at the time, had called on her, and 
he gave me his impressions. 

"She is a fine woman, but she will be disappointed in 
you if she comes out to Turkey," he said. 

"Why?" I asked, rather piqued. 

"Because you look young and foolish, and wear ruby- 
colored velvet dresses," he said, smiling and pointing 
at my new frock. 

275 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I always think of that ruby-colored dress in connec- 
tion with Isabel Fry, but I did not have much longer 
to wear bright-colored dresses at home. (Turkish 
women of a certain class did not at that time wear colors 
out of doors.) Miss Fry, who had taken me for an 
elderly woman from the tone of my letters, happily 
did like me despite my ruby-colored velvet dress. 

She came to Turkey in February, 1909, for the first 
time and stayed three weeks. We went to see some 
Turkish women who were interested in reform, and 
she visited a few schools as well. She wrote an excel- 
lent article for "Tanine" on women's education. 

The political passion reached its climax in March, 
1909, when Hassan Fehmy, a journalist on an opposi- 
tion paper, was shot on the Galata Bridge. This was 
the first political murder of the new regime, and it had 
a very bad effect on every one. The opposition used 
the funeral as a demonstration against the Unionists. 
From the corner of my house I saw a bier wrapped in 
a Persian shawl, with the Arabic verse from the Koran, 
"One martyr is enough for Allah," written in large 
letters over the coffin and a white-turbaned crowd fol- 
lowing it like an immense daisy-field. The ominous 
silence gave me the impression of what it must have 
been like in the old days of Fatih, 1 when thousands of 

i Fatih, as the center of great theological colleges (medresses), was 
always opposed to westernization. Great mutinies in Turkish history were 
led by the eminent hod j as and the theological students at Fatih, and these 
mutinies put forth the religious pretext, their usual war-cry being, "We 
want Sheriat," meaning the holy law. 

276 



TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

theological students with their white turbans rose and 
broke up the reforming tendencies before these ten- 
dencies were ripe. I spoke of it to Salih Zeki Bej r , who 
smiled and said: "The Unionists have the chasseur 
regiments from Saloniki, the founders of the revolution. 
They need not fear a reaction." At the end of that 
very month the same regiments supplied the leaders of 
the counter-revolution from among its sergeants and 
the corporals. 

"Beware the ides of March," I said to myself as I was 
awakened by unfamiliar and far-off firing on the morn- 
ing of March 31, 1909. There was a feeling of intense 
gloom and oppression, although the weather was bright 
and sunny. A deadly silence reigned in the usually 
bustling streets, broken only by occasional irregular 
steps, with the clink of military spurs. 

The meaning of this unaccountable firing was an- 
nounced to us by our old man-servant Hussein. He 
had been with us since our school days, and I had 
taught him how to read and write. His education, 
such as it was, had given him a passion for politics, and 
he followed cabinet changes and the political quarrels 
of the papers and parties more than I did. He hated 
the Unionists and reform, and he would gladly have 
seen even his own masters torn to pieces on account 
of their progressive ideas. But he was an old servant 
and in a strange way my pupil, although he was twice 
my age, and so we treated his politics as a joke. 

I well remember his glee as he knocked at the door of 
my bedroom that memorable day and said: 

277 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"Wake up, Effendim, the army has risen, the blood- 
streams carry deputy corpses, Ahmed Riza and Hussein 
Jahid are torn to pieces before the parliament in Sancta 
Sophia." (The parliament first met in the Ministry of 
Justice at Sancta Sophia Square.) 

Inconceivable as it seems, in the first moments of 
Unionist misfortune he had run up to our bedroom door 
in great joy to tell us of the death of two men both 
known as radical reformers, although one was our 
friend and the other a very respected and admired 
personage. 

In his extreme excitement he began from behind the 
door to tell me about Dervish Vahdeti, the leader of 
the reaction. Hussein had evidently followed him 
about as he spoke to the soldiers. Vahdeti was a 
reactionary and fanatical hodja who preached the whole- 
sale massacre of all the Unionists and of the young 
students and officers favorable to reform; he considered 
them the real enemies of the holy religion. He pub- 
lished a paper called "Vulcan" in which he asserted that 
the British and Russian governments would be far more 
favorable to the holy law than the existing Turkish 
government, and that the government, with the Union- 
ists, must be exterminated. This outburst of anti- 
national Islamic fanaticism appeared suspicious, and he 
was thought to be the paid emissary of the British 
embassy, a tool of Mr. Fitzmaurice, the first secretary 
of the embassy, whose name was involved in the counter- 
revolution of 1909. I did not study the evidence 
against Vahdeti, for I was absent during his trial, and 

278 



TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

so I cannot say whether or not there proved to be any 
truth in this. Anti-patriotic and anti-national church 
supporters have always existed throughout the history 
of the Christian Church. Vahdeti might have been a 
Moslem instance of the same thing. But there has been 
a change among the fanatics of his sort since then: no 
Moslem reactionary advocates a foreign occupation 
now, and the Islamic churches in and out of Turkey 
have become much more nationalistic. 

Salih Zeki Bey went out hastily to find out about 
the extent and importance of the rising. The next 
thing I remember about the day is the coming of my 
father with Dr. Djemal, an old friend from Sultan 
Tepe. The counter-revolution, they reported, was a 
very serious one. Mehemed Arslan, the deputy from 
Lebanon, had been lynched, and Nazim Pasha, the 
minister of justice, shot before the door of parliament 
by infuriated soldiers, who took them for Hussein 
Jahid and Ahmed Riza Beys. The soldiers were shoot- 
ing their officers, as well as any one else whom their 
organizations pointed out as a liberal or a reformer. 

Tewfik, the son of Auntie Peyker and Hamdi Effendi 
(the young officer who had returned from Europe after 
the constitution was declared, but had joined the op- 
position and was now with the reactionaries), sent word 
that I must escape to some safe place and that my 
name was on their black-list. Dr. Djemal asked me 
to leave the house in disguise and hasten, but I thought 
that I was safe in my own clothes in Istamboul, for 
no one would know me there. I took the boys with me 

279 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and immediately started with my father and Dr. 
Djemal for Scutari, where I could find a refuge more 
easily. As we drove along the Sublime Porte firing 
was going on, and the people were moving like con- 
demned shadows, while solitary soldiers were running 
hither and thither. We took a boat from Sirkedji, the 
only one that was available. 

I left the boat at the landing in Scutari and had 
started to walk into the town, holding tightly the hands 
of the little boys, who were convulsively clutching at 
my skirts, when suddenly a human hurricane hurled 
itself on us and flung us apart. It was soldiers from 
the Selimie barracks, who, after killing their officers, 
were rushing down to take the boat and join the 
counter-revolution. I found myself flattened against 
a shop, Ali Ayetullah was pushed into a coffee-house, 
and Hassan was thrown against a wall. They were 
trembling and half fainting with fear but were mirac- 
ulously unhurt in the brutal stampede. It was my first 
contact with the mob. 

In the meantime father's house, as that of a Union- 
ist, although neither an important nor a very well known 
one, was in danger. Some Unionist houses were at- 
tacked. During the day and the night, Sultan Tepe, 
so lonely on the top of the green hill, was a scene of 
shouting, rioting, drum-beating, and firing, while the 
rifle-shooting from Istamboul rose to a frenzied pitch. 
The mob with lanterns and drums continued their 
demonstrations all night, and each time they approached 
we expected the horror of the final moment. The whole 

280 



TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

night I sat watching and waiting, the babies crawling 
around my knees, clutching me as the firing and shout- 
ing became louder. 

The next morning strange-looking men stood by the 
door and watched the house. Opposite the garden 
walls of Sultan Tepe is the tekke of the Euzbeks; 
the sheik as well as his children were friends of my 
father. That evening in the dusk a young man from 
the tekke jumped over the garden wall and came to 
the house without being seen by the men at the door. 
It was he who said that I must escape, for a cousin of 
theirs, an influential reactionary, was trying to find out 
if I was in my father's house. An hour or two later 
under the cover of the night I escaped with the boys 
through the back door to that holy refuge. The young 
men of the tekke kept armed watch that night, and I 
rested two nights in that quiet and comparatively safe 
shelter, but as the reaction grew wilder and as the city 
was moved more and more by the spirit of massacre, I 
was no longer safe. When the reactionary cousin, 
knowing the liberal tendencies of the youth of the tekke 
as well as my father's friendship with the sheik, began 
to inquire whether I had taken refuge there, I had to 
leave the sanctuary and seek refuge in the American 
College, which was then in Scutari. 

In leaving the tekke I had to take further precautions. 
As I had grown up in the place, every one knew me, and 
the boys as well as I had to be disguised. I put on 
granny's loose black veils and dressed the boys in the 
oldest clothes of the gardener's children. I walked 

281 



MEMOIRS OF HAEIDE EDIB 

along the hills above Sultan Tepe, and Nighiar, my 
sister, who was a student in the college, came with me; 
before we had gone far from the tekki, the sight of two 
unusually brutal men running on the hills frightened 
her so much that her knees gave way. I could not help 
laughing in spite of my own anxiety, for she fell on 
her knees like a young camel. 

On reaching the American College, Dr. Vivian, who 
had Dr. Patrick's place for the time, received me with 
great kindness. Her calm strength and friendly re- 
ception brought back to my mind for the first time since 
the beginning of the horror the imminent danger in 
which the new ideals and the country stood. These I 
had forgotten in my terror. Before I could greet 
Dr. Vivian I sank on a chair and began to sob pas- 
sionately. 

I stayed in the college four nights, hidden in the very 
room in which as a little girl I used to sit and repeat 
my childish lessons to Miss Dodd. All that seemed 
ages ago now, as I read the papers and listened to the 
incessant firing in Istamboul. There was a rumor that 
an army was coming from Saloniki to suppress the 
counter-revolution. How strange it sounded ! A hun- 
dred years ago another Turkish army had marched 
from Macedonia under Alemdar Moustafa Pasha to 
save the young reformer Selim and his reform from the 
mob and the army which had risen against it. Was 
history going to repeat itself in another form? 

I heard in the meantime that Young Turks were 
being protected by the Russian embassy and helped to 

282 



TOWARD REACTION; THE ARMENIAN QUESTION 

escape. The Russians in and out of politics have be- 
haved with real humanity and chivalry. The Russian 
embassy, although no friend of the regime, gave asylum 
to revolutionary and anti-revolutionary with equal 
generosity. 

A rather mysterious phase of the reaction was the 
Armenian massacre in Adana. It seemed that the 
party of reaction, which was killing the Young Turks 
in Constantinople, was killing the Armenians in Adana. 
The Armenian and foreign sources declared the mas- 
sacre to have been prepared by the Young Turks them- 
selves. But the Young Turks, who were powerless 
and hiding for their lives, were hardly likely to be able 
to direct any such movement. The causes were deeper 
and more complex. 

As I have already mentioned, the Young Turks had 
come to a superficial understanding with the Tashnaks, 
the Armenian revolutionary leaders. The Unionist 
program, which involved a centralized representative 
government, was accepted by all the minority leaders, 
and some of the Armenians were sincere Unionists. 
But some, indeed even the majority of the Armenian 
leaders, still kept their separatist tendencies, and these 
were anxious and watchful. The Armenian Free 
State, which was a mere political game to Russia and 
England, was a real political ideal to some leading 
Armenians; and they needed continual trouble and a 
martyred Armenian nation in Turkey as a pretext to 
attract the attention and the sympathy of the European 

283 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

public and to induce European interference in the in- 
ternal administration of Turkey. 

The Young Turks in their first understanding with 
the Armenian Tashnaks had allowed them to keep their 
arms till the new regime should be firmly settled. This 
was the apparent cause of the massacre of Adana. 

In Turkey massacres are set in motion by a mutual 
feeling of distrust and fear. It happens in some such 
way as this: In the Turkish quarters the rumor would 
go around that the Armenians were going to use their 
bombs and kill the Turks. As a rule the Turks were 
without arms in those days; hence bombs in the hands 
of a revolutionary minority made them nervous. The 
same rumor would go round in Armenian quarters, and 
the potential fear and hatred, already worked upon and 
accumulated by the politicians, would explode, the 
leaders would disappear, and the people would proceed 
to throttle each other. Thus the discovery of arms in 
the Armenian quarters and a personal quarrel between 
two individuals started the great Adana massacre. 
Djemal Bey (later Djemal Pasha) was sent as gov- 
ernor after the reestablishment of the Unionist regime; 
he restored order and became immensely popular es- 
pecially in the Armenian quarters. 

During my stay in the college the street massacres, 
the anarchy, and the lack of any control over the mob be- 
came so dangerous that my family sought for me a 
safer refuge out of the country, and I had to leave for 
Egypt with my little boys in the midst of the counter- 
revolution of 1909. 

284 



CHAPTER XI 

REFUGEE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

THE name of my boat was Isviailie. Two berths 
were found with difficulty in a second-class cabin 
containing in all six berths. I was again 
heavily veiled in an ample and old-fashioned charshaf of 
granny's, and my sons were disguised in the old suits 
of the gardener's boys. In this guise we were smuggled 
into the boat by Miss Prime and the cavass of the Rus- 
sian consulate. The anarchy of the city had made the 
police careless, and so I do not think it was as difficult 
as we supposed it would be. Miss Prime gave me a 
sewing-bag which she herself had made for me, con- 
taining all kinds of sewing-material. In the whole 
course of my life I have never received a more useful 
gift. The stockings and frocks I have darned and 
mended with its contents are beyond counting. I still 
keep it almost reverently. A large box was also smug- 
gled into the depths of the boat. I myself could only 
carry a bundle which would be in keeping with the class 
to which my dress made me appear to belong, and which 
would therefore arouse no suspicion. Salih Zeki Bey 
gave me a letter from an Armenian professor addressed 
to some Armenian revolutionaries in Alexandria, and 
the boat started. 

285 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I sat on my berth, the boys clinging close to me. It 
was smelly and dark with a large amount of queer lug- 
gage piled up everywhere. For a long time I did not 
trust myself to think of anything but the immediate 
present. With two babies and but little money, I was 
thrown into the unknown, leaving my people behind 
me to an uncertain fate. I cannot deny that there was 
also a sense of the relaxation of tension. No more 
should I have to face the probability of being torn to 
pieces before the very eyes of my little ones; no more 
might the little ones be trampled under the feet of the 
furious mob of Istamboul. It was soon dark in the 
cabin, and before the light was lit the plump figure of 
a woman stood by the door of the cabin and said in 
English, half to herself and half to me: 

"What is that black bundle?" 

I was the black bundle. I opened my veil and re- 
moved the long upper mantle of the charshaf; I felt 
much comforted by the friendliness of the voice. 

"Good evening," I said. 

I remember the joy in her face as she found that 
I spoke English. When the light was on I saw to my 
surprise that my new friend was a chocolate-colored 
American negress, with a round face, the friendliest 
imaginable, and very fashionable clothes. What she 
saw was a figure of a woman sitting cross-legged on 
the lower berth and bending her head to prevent it 
from knocking against the low ceiling of the upper 
one. 

I must have looked like a vision from the grave after 

286 



REFUGEE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

the misery of the preceding week. Thinking that my 
long hair would be a hindrance to me as a refugee 
woman, I had cut my hair, and it was mv short hair that 
brought her to me with a spring. Kneeling down be- 
fore my berth she looked hungrily at my face: 

"Oh, oh!" she said, "you are Susie's very image. She 
is just like this — the thin face and the eyes and the 
hair. She is my daughter, Susie is, but she is white" 
— this with pride — "her father was a Frenchman." 

After some intimate details about Susie's white father 
and Susie's fairness, the mother put her plump arms 
around me and kissed my cheeks over and over again. 

In ten minutes I knew all about her. She was an 
"artist" from a place in Pera called Cataculum, per- 
haps a night bar. Whatever else I forget I shall never 
forget that funny name. The terror of the revolution 
was driving her away. She was throwing up a profit- 
able contract, she told me, and flying from Constan- 
tinople. She had in America the sixteen-year-old 
daughter who looked like me, according to her descrip- 
tion. Besides that warm passion (which spent itself 
in hugging me constantly) she loved another French- 
man called Monsieur Nickol. I am afraid Susie's 
father had been dead for some time. The man had 
promised to marry her. She herself was thirty-two, a 
fine smart colored woman of the stage and as gay and 
coquettish as she could be. She seemed to have Reshe's 
color and Xevres Badji's affectionate heart; and her 
odor was very different from either, for she used Pari- 
sian scents of the strongest sort, which, mixing with 

287 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the unpleasant odors of the cabin, took on a strange 
quality. The dirty stuffy place brightened up with hu- 
man affection and gaiety, and the little boys laughed and 
kissed her and treated her with affectionate but slightly 
condescending familiarity, in the selfish manner of little 
white boys who have black nurses. Reshe used to be 
haughty and had succeeded in making herself respected 
by the little ones, while this one, despite her fashionable 
clothes, rings, and ear-rings, spoiled the boys, running 
about and playing with them like a little girl. The 
second day she fell rather badly in love with the head 
waiter, but in spite of this she did not neglect the boys, 
taking them daily on the deck. 

The morning took an eternal time to come in that 
cabin, and no sleep was possible amid the snoring and 
the smell, but when it did come the first note of bright- 
ness was struck by the colored lady. She began her 
toilet with a song in the half-pathetic half-humorous 
tone peculiar to her race, and she used a great deal 
of eau de Cologne, which at least was familiar. Pow- 
dered and rouged, she approached my berth and began 
again to tell me about Susie, and going on to Monsieur 
Nickol, imitating with a queer American negro accent 
his French jokes, after which she finished by helping 
me to dress the boys in that dirty little hole — no easy 
task. 

The journey to Alexandria took five days, and as the 
the days passed I became increasingly conscious of her 
vulgarity and wondered what people would think if 
they saw me with a bar artiste from Cataculum. On 

288 



REFUGEE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

the fourth day I accidentally saw her being kissed twice 
by the handsome Italian head waiter, which not only 
shocked me but also made me shrink a little. 

The Armenians, who had received a telegram from 
the professor in Constantinople, came to the boat to 
fetch me, and they took me to a hotel in Mohammed 
Ali Place, owned by a motherly Frenchwoman called 
Madame Bonnard. Shinorkian, one of the Armenians 
whose name I well remember, had the refined manner 
of the gentlemen of the Tanzimat period, which has 
left its mark on all the racial elements of the empire. 
lie had left Turkey during Armenian troubles in the 
time of Abdul Hamid and had never returned. What- 
ever his sentiments were, he had the perfect manner of 
the Turkish gentleman, which soothed and comforted 
me. 

In the square before my hotel the hurdy-gurdies 
played the same tune again and again, and I can hear 
that tune now. Italian girls with white or colored 
kerchiefs over their heads sang and gathered money in 
a little plate; Arabs, in silk gowns, shining shoes, im- 
mense gold chains over their jackets, and rigid fezzes 
with tassels on one side, filled the place. Some sat on 
the benches; others walked up and down the street. 
On the right of my window stretched a European street, 
and on the left the blue sea washed the shores. The 
noises reached their climax as night drew near. 

The color and noise of Egypt, so different from Tur- 
key, the mixed crowd with its lively tunes and perpetual 
gestures, affected me strangely. 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

After the strain of the last weeks in Constantinople, 
the novelty of the place charmed the boys; and if my 
visits to the American consulate, where I hoped to 
receive letters from home, had not been fruitless, the 
new atmosphere would have made me very happy. 
The Arabic I had learned from books did not help me 
much, and no one spoke English, but I soon discovered 
to my great surprise that Greek was the language most 
spoken in Alexandria. 

The city was going through an epidemic of scarlet 
fever and measles, and there was a very high child mor- 
tality. On the fifth evening of my arrival in Egypt 
as I undressed Hassan I found him hot, and on closer 
examination I saw red spots on his body, which put 
me in a panic. A Greek or Italian doctor who was 
in the hotel told me that it was scarlet fever (it proved 
afterward to be measles) and said I must send Hassan 
to a hospital. I remember sitting on a chair and star- 
ing at him stupidly, as if he had struck me a blow on 
the head. My utter despair must have touched the old 
man, for his fat face kindled with pity and he said: 
"Corimou [my daughter], I will not declare it. Don't 
let any one come to the room, and keep the other boy 
away from the bed of the sick one. I will call it 
influenza." 

How terrible — and cut off from every one who be- 
longed to me! Still there was this kind old man, who 
was doing a thing which would have brought him pun- 
ishment if it had been found out. 

I had an ugly week of anxiety. As I had not heard 

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REFUGEE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

from home I was afraid to spend money, and I daily 
washed all the clothes myself. I was wondering whether 
all who belonged to me had been killed, and how 
long I and the children would be able to live with the 
little money I had brought with me. I washed on 
clumsily, rubbing the skin off my hands, and thinking 
hard. Ali Ayetullah tiptoed about, hanging the clothes 
on the rails of the beds, and putting things in order 
in the wardrobe, standing on a chair to do so. As his 
little body moved round the room, his large eyes never 
leaving my face, I felt a strange sense of dependence 
on him. Every day just for a little while I took him 
out into the fresh air, but he pulled my hand all the 
time, wanting to go back to his sick brother. He had 
a queer way of squatting on a chair at a distance and 
telling stories to Hassan. 

When Hassan was better again I walked to the con- 
sulate in the hope of letters; there were none. As the 
secretary walked with me to the door, the black lady 
of Cataculum with a white gentleman entered the room. 

Was it the presence of the man, or the exaggerated 
rouge on her cheeks, or my bourgeois soul of those 
days? I cannot tell, but I know that I walked out of 
the room without giving any sign of recognition. The 
strange and startled look in her eyes as they flashed at 
me seemed to say, "No longer so miserable or so 
thankful for human kindness!" Before I reached the 
streets, I was longing to run back and make reparation 
for the cowardly feeling which made me act as I did. 
I knew it would be a long remembered shame of my 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

soul. But I did not go back somehow, and the memory 
still haunts and hurts me. 

It was about three weeks afterward when I got a 
letter from home, but I was so miserable that I wired to 
Salih Zeki Bey and asked him to come to Egypt at 
once, telling him about Hassan's illness. 

He arrived about May 1 ; but by that time, although 
Hassan was still in bed, he was out of danger, and Ali 
had not caught the measles. 

Salih Zeki Bey brought news from Constantinople. 
An army from Macedonia under the command of 
Mahmoud Shevket Pasha had marched on Constan- 
tinople and entered it. There had been little fighting 
between the Macedonian forces and those of the sultan. 
Abdul Hamid was dethroned, and Mohammed V had 
ascended the throne. Abdul Hamid was exiled to 
Saloniki. The new cabinet was formed mostly of the 
old elements. Hussein Hilmi Pasha was the prime 
minister. Talaat and Djavid Beys were the first 
Unionist members who entered the cabinet, one for the 
interior and the other for finance. Martial law was 
declared, and there were a great many executions; the 
reaction was drowned in blood. 

In the meantime I received a letter from Miss Isabel 
Fry inviting me to England, and Salih Zeki Bey urged 
me to accept the invitation. Although I was interested 
in England, I could not bring myself to be separated 
from my sons, and the idea of traveling alone to Eng- 
land frightened me not a little. 

Salih Zeki Bey not only urged me to accept the invi- 

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REFUGEE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

tation, but he also undertook to be personally respon- 
sible for the boys in my absence. So after a rather 
happy fortnight spent in sight-seeing and getting used 
to wearing a hat I started from Egypt all alone for 
England, and embarked at Port Said direct to Til- 
bury. 

If I were to go over the details of that voyage, even 
a little Turkish girl of twelve would laugh at me. I 
was utterly upset with timidity and misery. The jour- 
ney passed somehow, and I landed safely on the Eng- 
lish shore. The dear little house of Miss Fry in 
Marylebone Street stands out as the first familiar im- 
pression. She had prepared a full and interesting 
program for a Turkish woman who had as yet no 
public experience. 

I will speak only of the impressions which stand out in 
greatest relief during that visit. One is a scene of Mr. 
Masefield's "Pompeii," which he read to me in Miss 
Fry's farm-house at Hampden. It was not published 
then, and I have not read it since, but it impressed me 
as most forceful. Another impression is of Mr. Dillon 
speaking on Irish Home Rule ; I heard him in a debate 
in Cambridge, thanks to the kindness of Professor and 
Mrs. Browne, who took me there. The sincerity and 
personal charm of the old man stirred me strangely. 
I remember leaning over the railing of the gallery 
to hide my tears, so deeply was I moved, and I have 
elsewhere publicly owned that his speech was one of 
the emotional causes which started me on the road of 
nationalism. The British parliament was the next 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

thing, and it inspired me almost with pious emotion. 
As the oldest parliament, it had been a symbol to us 
in our bloody struggle and effort for representative 
government. 

Mr. Nevinson perhaps is the last but the strongest 
figure that stands out in my memory. He struck me 
as one of the few true idealists I have met in life. No 
philosophy is lonelier, no principle so fruitless as ideal- 
ism from the material and personal point of view, and 
I have sadly learned to question the personal motives 
of most men who profess an ideal or a principle, but 
Mr. Nevinson's I have never questioned. 

In October I returned to Turkey. 



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CHAPTER XII 

SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

I HAVE a painful memory of my home-coming to 
Sultan Tepe on my return from England. The 
little boys stood with their backs to the garden 
wall, holding hands. Whether it was fancy or reality I 
could not tell, but the peach-like coloring of Hassan's 
face seemed to have assumed a delicate tinge, and his 
usually round cheeks looked sunken. That very night 
I realized fully what a bloody revolution means to a 
child's delicate nervous system. In the middle of the 
night I woke with a start to hear Hassan talking 
deliriously in his sleep. It was a frantic appeal to the 
soldiers not to kill me, and he repeated it all the time 
with the accent of unutterable misery and fear which 
only a child can have in its voice. In the morning he 
had a very high fever, and it proved to be typhoid. 
This time I was so completely occupied with nursing 
the child that I slipped out of the world of affairs and 
barely realized the great and exciting change which 
the new regime was undertaking. 

I wrote "Sevie Talib" during the long watches of the 
night. Hassan's case was not very dangerous, but on 
account of the shock he had received his nerves were 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

in a deplorable condition. His delirium and his help- 
less terror brought me nearer to understanding children 
in similar cases of suffering in later years. 

The book was published in the winter. The fact 
that I had dared to expose social shams and conventions 
brought down on my head a volley of criticism. But 
the book's popularity was equal to the severity of the 
attacks. It was about this time that I had an invita- 
tion from Prince Med j id to visit him and his wife in 
his house near Chamlidja. Prince Med j id was the 
most popular prince then in Turkey. A clever mu- 
sician and painter, a highly cultivated man, both in 
Oriental and European literature, a skilled horseman 
and a tender-hearted human being, these attributes 
made him very much to be desired as a ruler. But he 
was rather far down the line of succession, being then the 
sixth I believe. His invitation to me was not merely 
an invitation to a writer, it was to an old acquaintance. 
When I was three years old and lie quite a young man 
we had known each other. I had a blurred memory 
of a wonderful chandelier, very spacious halls with 
heavy silk furniture and gilded mirrors, and a young 
man who wore his fez very much on one side and who 
held me on his knees and teased me calling me 
"naughty," while tall women in long trains and high 
head-dresses glided about silently on the highly polished 
floors. I seemed also to remember an immense garden, 
a pond, weeping willows, and several swings with fair 
Circassian girls swinging in them. Somehow after I 
went to see the prince and the princess in their palace 

296 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

I could never locate these places, though the memory 
of them still haunted me. 

I shall never forget the feeling of uneasiness and of 
being entirely out of place in a palace which over- 
whelmed me. When I saw that the prince and his 
stately wife were quite as nervous as myself I recov- 
ered. Prince Med j id seemed agreeably excited over 
the new regime, which allowed him to meet people and 
move about like any ordinary human being. So far 
he had been buried in his library and had only been able 
to ride about within the limits of his own large park. 

"I feel like a new doll taken out of a box and told to 
move and speak," he said. I was glad to be once more 
confirmed in my early belief that however great the 
position of a man may be it is wrong to remove him 
too far from the habits and lives of his fellow-men. 

Although the kind and affectionate manners of the 
prince and the princess never changed, I felt oppressed 
whenever I visited them in Dolma-Bagtche. They 
quietly dropped out of my life after the prince became 
heir to the throne, though I did see him again in sad cir- 
cumstances of which I shall speak later. 

I was at that time writing a series of articles on the 
educational question of the day, which was the subject 
that interested me more than any other. The articles 
had evidently attracted the attention of Said Bey, who 
was the counselor of the ministry of education, and he 
called on me one day and tried to persuade me to give 
some of my time to teaching. He especially wanted me 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

to see the normal school for girls and to propose some 
changes. I had never thought of teaching and did 
not care much for the idea, but it seemed to me that 
the call to the educated Turks to teach in the era of 
reform was like the call to military service. It led me 
to go to the normal school and study its conditions. 

I visited and studied the school with Nakie Hanum. 
She was an old graduate of the normal school and had 
been for some time a teacher in the American College, 
where she had assimilated during her training there all 
that was best and most applicable to school manage- 
ment in Turkey. Endowed with intelligence, charac- 
ter, and constructive ability, she developed into one of 
our best organizers. Her natural understanding and 
knowledge of the students and of the teachers of the 
time fitted her especially for the task. She was ap- 
pointed director of the normal school, and it was with 
her that we carried out the reform which the ministry 
of education accepted in my report. 

At first the school was in Ak-Serai, an old dilapidated 
building, and its dominant teaching features were Ara- 
bic, Persian domestic science, and a thorough instruc- 
tion in religion. It needed a curriculum with a newer 
and more scientific spirit, a living language, and a more 
modern atmosphere and equipment. The most vital 
change was to be the development of a new spirit in 
the Turkish student. A new sense of responsibility and 
of cooperation, a new self-respect in the child, as well 
as a more earnest and open-minded and less autocratic 

298 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

attitude in the teacher were necessary before the new 
education in Turkey could take shape. 

No one could have done it better than Nakie Hanum. 
She knew her human material so well that she was able 
to evolve the new spiritual liberty of the child without 
too much destruction or exaggeration. Time has shown 
us that the point of equilibrium between the teacher and 
the taught is very delicate and of most vital importance. 
If it is too much on the teacher's side it creates an auto- 
cratic, tyrannical, and repressive system of education; 
if it is too much on the student's side it creates complete 
anarchy. Without a proper adjustment of the relations 
between teachers and students, without the right de- 
gree of discipline and order, one can neither teach 
nor learn seriously. 

Nakie Hanum's teaching corps showed real self- 
abnegation and made very serious efforts, conscious as 
they were of the importance of their part as pioneers 
in a new realm of education for women. I entered the 
school as a teacher of the principles of education, and 
my first contact with the teaching and student classes 
in Turkey began at that time. 

It was a year of liveliest interest. In two years the 
educational department saw the necessity of a girls' col- 
lege, and as the normal school had shown real progress 
it was turned into a college, and a new normal boarding- 
school was opened in another part of Istamboul. 

For five long years I was a teacher in the girls' col- 
lege, teaching the history and principles of education 

299 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and ethics to the young and some other things which one 
teaches behind the lines, things which are necessary if 
one means to build new country. If I taught I also 
learned, and in the give and take my students formed 
and molded me as much as I did them. It was with 
the help of some of the students of those years that we 
were able to modernize and organize the mosque schools 
some years later with Nakie Hanum, and it was with 
the aid of the same element that I organized the schools 
and the orphanage in Syria, of which I shall speak in 
coming chapters. 

Before I pass on to another subject I must say that 
Said Bey — the counselor of the ministry of education, 
several times minister of public instruction, and a well 
known professor in the University of Istamboul — must 
have the honor of being the pioneer advocate of the 
modernization of women's education in New Turkey. 

After bitter moments caused by the severe repression 
of the reaction, the Hakki Pasha cabinet came into 
power in 1910 with a big program actuated by the 
spirit of reconciliation. Hakki Pasha, who was an au- 
thority on international law, and who had stood the 
test of Abdul Hamid's reign, seemed the proper person 
to take the responsibility for the moment. Neither too 
young to antagonize the old, nor too old to stand against 
new ideas of progress, he had the confidence and the 
respect of all. A limited number of the extremists of 
the Union and Progress were the only people against 
him. 

300 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

In announcing his program he gave as his motto the 
following verse from the Koran: "Allah has ordered 
to rule according to justice and mercy." But he had no 
time to carry out this axiom. The Tripolitan trouble 
— the sudden seizure of Tripoli by the Italians — roused 
the popular anger against him so violently that he had 
to resign immediately. He was accused of not having 
foreseen the event in time, and of not having taken any 
diplomatic or military action to prevent it. 

The constitutional reform in Turkey, which aroused 
the general sympathy of the world, somehow disap- 
pointed the powers, who had so neatly planned the di- 
vision of the sick man's estate. One after another they 
hastened to snatch from Turkey what they could. Dur- 
ing the first months after the establishment of the new 
regime in 1908 Austria had broken the feeble thread 
which bound Bosnia-Herzegovina to Turkey. An im- 
mense excitement broke out through the entire country, 
followed by acute disillusion. It was the first shock 
to the childish belief that once a New Turkey arose 
tlie powers and the aggressive little nations who sur- 
rounded her would allow for the difficulties of the re- 
form period, and give her at least a short time to find 
herself. I remember the wild demonstrations in Istam- 
boul, the speeches and street gatherings, the discarding 
of fezzes because they were of Austrian manufacture. 
Solemn vows of the eternal boycott of Austrian goods 
appeared in all the papers. Everywhere in Turkey the 
crowds had worn picturesque red tops; now they wore 
home-made white caps. Although it was difficult to 

301 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

imagine anything in the way of military action against 
Austria, still Kiamil Pasha's practical way of arrang- 
ing the dispute with Austria by accepting two millions 
of Turkish pounds angered many people as the first 
commercial act in Turkish history where a question of 
honor was involved. The Turkish government as well 
as the nation was used to fighting for lost causes, at 
whatever cost of Turkish lives, money, and other re- 
sources. The supreme point had always been the safe- 
guarding of national honor. The Turks so far had 
never conceded land without fighting for it. The vast 
lands which they had had to yield up had always been 
watered abundantly with Turkish blood. Consequently 
the practical old man, when he showed realism in poli- 
tics instead of the traditional patriotic idealism, aroused 
a passionate resentment. 

Before the sore feeling about Bosnia-Herzegovina 
had been calmed, the Cretan assembly declared the an- 
nexation of the island of Crete by Greece. This 
aroused another wild outburst. I measure the general 
disappointment from the pain I personally suffered. 
A strong patriotic literature blossomed out from every 
poet's pen. What would sound chauvinistic and ex- 
aggerated now then represented emotion of the sincer- 
est kind. "Crete is our life ; let our blood flow," shouted 
the youth of the country for months. Then the Italians 
seized Tripoli, and the burden of the song changed 
again. 

So in 1910, Turkey, on top of everything else, was to 

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SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

face the loss of vast lands in Africa. The practical 
settlement of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the helplessness of 
the government before the annexation of Crete, had al- 
ready filled the cup to the brim. Action became in- 
evitable before the outburst of public feeling. 

At first there was the usual boycott, though with even 
greater emphasis than usual. "Tanine" was one of the 
papers which went into perfect hysteria over Tripoli. 
A large list of signed vows appeared. "I will not buy 
Italian goods ; I will not eat macaroni ; I will not speak 
Italian . . ." was the strain in which it went on. In 
the first edition of "Handan" my editor was obliged to 
announce the change of her vacations from Sicily to 
Corfu. I even had scolding letters from Saloniki, the 
center of the revolution, for allowing a hero of mine to 
play Verdi. 

"I will not eat macaroni" cost Italy a good deal, for 
Turkey until then had consumed a great amount of 
Italian macaroni, and the opening of macaroni factories 
in Turkey probably begins at that time. 

The Tripolitan affair not only somewhat diminished 
the Unionist prestige but, what was more important, it 
made the man in the street realize that reform and the 
ideal of a westernized Turkey were the cause of all the 
trouble. 

The isolated position of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the 
Austrian rule that was already established there had put 
it out of the reach of the Turkish army; the island of 
Crete with its Greek majority and the very poor 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

condition of the Turkish navy * made attack in that di- 
rection impossible; the same reason made active meas- 
ures in Tripoli seem impossible when one considered the 
superiority of the Italian navy and the modern equip- 
ment of the Italian army that landed in Tripoli. Still 
every one thought that if the impenetrable desert and its 
fighting folk had been better organized and prepared, 
the Italian attack might have been rendered more diffi- 
cult. Yet the geographical position of Tripoli was 
such that after Turkey had ceased to be a powerful 
empire and lost her supremacy over the seas, it was 
doomed to fall into the hands of any Mediteranean 
power which was suffering from a surplus population 
and had a modern navy. But this fact did not diminish 
the bitterness felt at the series of blows dealt so cruelly 
to Turkey, or the indignation at the Italian massacres 
of the defenseless Tripolitan people. 

The Young Turks saw very well that the next blow 
would come from the Balkans, that Turkey's Mace- 
donian provinces would be snatched away from her. 
Therefore they had to think and act instantly toward 
organizing a modern army and toward doing all they 
could to hinder the Italian occupation. With this end 
in view they smuggled a few leading Turkish officers 
into Tripoli, who organized the native forces and made 
Tripoli uncomfortable for the invading Italian army. 

This course was very much in keeping with Turkish 

i Abdul Aziz had almost ruined the national budget in organizing a navy, 
but Abdul Hamid had ruined the navy by personal intimidation. The ships 
were practically imprisoned and rusted in the Golden Horn. 

304 




< 

O 

of 
o 

« 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

temperament. If the defense of Tripoli was not of 
the highest wisdom, it at least savored of the old days 
of chivalry. From the historical point of view one may 
find three reasons which led the Young Turks to under- 
take the defense of Tripoli as they did: first, the war- 
like spirit of the Tripolitans and the atrocities com- 
mitted by the Italians in Tripoli; secondly, the loss of 
Unionist prestige, which demanded some show of high 
courage and sacrifice if it was to be regained; thirdly, 
the feeling that if no action was taken the series of spoli- 
ations would go on forever. 

Before long Enver Bey, the military attache in Berlin, 
and Fethi Bey, the military attache in Paris (both he- 
roes in 1908), came to Tripoli, and a bold defense was 
begun under their leadership. 

The Tripolitan war is the first of the great and dis- 
astrous wars which the New Turkey has sustained 
within the last fourteen years. Without sending out 
any large forces of men or of warlike resources, with a 
handful of idealistic young officers thrown, as it were, 
into the desert, the national honor was insured and the 
Tripolitans were helped in their struggle against the 
Italian occupation, the beginning of which had been so 
bloody. The war appealed to every one in Turkey. 
Young men known as bitter anti-Unionists volunteered 
and fought under Enver and Fethi. The popularity 
of these young leaders once more rose to the height it at- 
tained in the first days of the revolution. Enver's fame 
as the hero of Islam, and his pan-Islamic ideal, date 
from the Tripolitan struggles. His organization of the 

305 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

desert forces and his relation with the Senussi leaders 
were such that if he had wished he could have been 
easily made the sultan of the Tripolitan Arabs with 
larger prospects of expanding his domains. But at the 
end of two years the Balkan war began, and the disaster 
of the Turkish arms in Macedonia brought back Enver 
and Fethi and their brother officers to defend their coun- 
try. 

In the very midst of the Tripolitan excitement the 
Turkish papers took up the Galata Serai incident, an in- 
cident which would have passed unnoticed had it not 
been that the names of Salih Zeki and Tewfik Fikret 
were involved. 

Galata Serai was one of the greatest schools for boys 
in Turkey, and including Tewfik Fikret it counted most 
of the great poets and writers among its graduates. 

Tewfik Fikret after retiring from politics had turned 
to education as the president of Galata Serai, and he was 
successfully reorganizing that establishment and putting 
his own marvelous spirit into it. He was very much 
influenced by the new school movement in France, and 
was in favor of an individualistic Anglo-Saxon educa- 
tional ideal, somewhat in the line of Desmoulins' prin- 
ciples. In fact Desmoulins has affected very strongly 
a certain set of politicians and intellectuals in Turkey 
who were called Decentralists, and their leader was 
Prince Sebahheddine. 

Tewfik Fikret had obtained very fine results from his 
work in Galata Serai when an administrative difficulty 

306 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

involving a difference of opinion with the minister of 
public instruction made him resign. The minister at 
the moment was, as a savant, an equally prominent man, 
and the Young Turks maintained a neutral attitude to- 
ward the disagreement between Fikret and the minister, 
Emroullah Effendi. 

Emroullah Effendi begged Salih Zeki Bey to accept 
the post vacated by Fikret. In those days there was a 
strict tradition about the presidency of Galata Serai; 
only men prominent in letters or science could fill it. 
Salih Zeki Bey, after asking Fikret if his decision to 
leave the school was final, accepted. The public opinion 
divided itself into two camps, the old students of 
Salih Zeki and the followers of Tewfik Fikret. A long 
and violent series of discussions occupied the news- 
papers. It was called the "difference between the poet 
and the savant." Salih Zeki kept the post till he became 
the rector of the university and the counselor of the min- 
istry of public instruction. But this made Tewfik Fik- 
ret's separation from the Union and Progress final. 

In 1910 I was having serious domestic trouble. I 
felt that I was obliged to make a great change in my life, 
a change which I could not easily force myself to face. 
Salih Zeki Bey's relation with and attachment to a 
teacher looked serious enough to make it seem conceiv- 
able that he contemplated marriage. A believer in 
monogamy, in the inviolability of name and home, I felt 
it to be my duty to retire from what I had believed would 
be my home to the end of my life. But knowing Salih 

307 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Zeki Bey's passing caprices of heart and temperament 
I wanted to be absolutely sure, before breaking up my 
home, of the stability of his latest attachment. I there- 
fore took the little boys with me and went to Yanina 
near my father with the intention of waiting there for 
a few months. 

At my return Salih Zeki Bey told me that he had 
married the lady, but to my great surprise he added that 
polygamy was necessary in some cases, and he asked 
me to continue as his first wife. There was a long and 
painful struggle between us, but at last he consented to 
a divorce, and I left what for nine years had been my 
home. 

It was a cold April night when I drove with the boys 
to Fatih, to the big old-fashioned house of Xakie 
Hanum, where I stayed till I found a suitable house. 
What now seems an almost ordinary incident in a 
woman's life was then of supreme importance and the 
cause of great suffering to me. My foolish heart nearly 
broke. I think the women of Turkey must be more 
used to divorce nowadays, for one hears little of broken 
hearts in the many divorce cases that now take place 
there. 

Nakie Hanum' s house was in a narrow street with 
other typically Turkish houses with low eaves and many 
windows, but it was the highest in that street, and from 
the room where for some time I lay sick I could see the 
upper part of a single dark cypress over which the 
needle-like tops of the minarets of the Fatih mosque 
pierced the blue sky. I heard the continual creak of 

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SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

wood as an old donkey turned round and round draw- 
ing water from some deep well in the opposite gardens. 
Besides this primitive melody and the call from the min- 
arets of Fatih, there was virtuallv no sound in the street. 

Before long I found a house in Fazli Pasha, a steep 
but broad street on the southern part of Istamboul lead- 
ing to the sea. I could look out from my bed upon the 
expanse of grayish sea with the blue haze at its horizon 
and the ruddy glows of the sunsets over it. 

I had been in low health for the whole year, feeling 
feverish and very tired, but I had not paid much atten- 
tion to it. A medical consultation, however, showed 
that it was rather a serious chest weakness, and my con- 
tinual fever and troublesome cough as well as my severe 
headaches obliged me to stay in bed for three months. 

Salih Zeki Bey's second marriage had aroused such 
personal curiosity that every eye probed me hard to see 
how I bore my own trouble after having written so much 
about other people's. I remember one fat woman in 
particular among my acquaintances who used to come 
with stories about the love-making of the new couple and 
watch my face with obvious curiosity. I neither ques- 
tioned nor commented ; I had a strange feeling of won- 
der at her apparent desire to see me suffer. I passed 
the test of vivisection rather successfully I believe, for 
my calmness and apparent lack of interest made her 
after a time drop the subject. Still it was a great pity 
that every one spoke of me as having consumption at 
this moment of my life, for consumption is ridiculously 
associated in the public mind with disappointed love. 

309 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I allowed myself no sentimental self-analysis or mor- 
bid philosophizing at this time, such as I had occasion- 
ally indulged in during the other serious illnesses I had 
gone through. I meant to conquer all physical ills, and 
I meant to make a home for my sons equal to the one 
they had had to leave, and to surround them with a 
happy and normal home atmosphere. I was deter- 
mined to live, and not to leave them to the sort of life 
which children have when their mother is dead or crushed 
in spirit. 

As I write these lines I feel as if I were writing of the 
life of a young woman who has passed away. I see her 
lying on a simple bed of high pillows ; I see her strug- 
gling to write her daily articles or short stories; and I 
hear her cough continually. Then the evening lights 
blaze over the waters, the little boys come back, and she 
makes painful efforts to conquer her wild desire to kiss 
and hug them. They chatter about the American school 
they attend, and finally they go down to dine with 
granny, while she is left alone in the twilight room, with 
the utter mysterious loveliness and strange longings of 
the evening. She looks at pain with a quizzical smile, 
while she listens to the voices of the evening in the 
streets. The sellers of yogurt, cadaif, the chanting of 
beggars, the footsteps of workers who pass down to 
Koum-Kapou, and at last the call of the childish voices 
and the patter of small feet scampering in the dusk in 
those large, lonely streets. 

My own favorite among the voices belonged to a blind 
Arab beggar, and it was only on Friday evenings that 

310 



SOME PUBLIC AND PERSONAL EVENTS, 1909-12 

he came. I knew that he leaned against the corner of 
the house, one hand against his cheek, while his gut- 
tural melody lengthened into an infinite wail, which yet 
had something of the desert and its lonely passion as it 
penetrated the evening air. It was mostly a religious 
chant, a wail and a complaint in wondrous simple mel- 
ody, calling to the Prophet, "Ya Resoulallah, Ya Res- 
oxdallah." The "Allah" was long and died away in a 
hissing sound. In no other musical experience have I 
ever had this almost uncanny contact with the musician. 
I was perfectly aware that he felt some one listening to 
his guttural melody, for sometimes he would stop 
for a moment and murmur searchingly and low, as if he 
were trying to reach out for the soul-contact which had 
snapped for a moment: "Where art thou? Art thou 
listening?" 

Then his stick struck the pavement, and he staggered 
on silently in the manner of the blind. 

Six months later when I was traveling and for the 
first time was not there to hear him, he said to the cook, 
who gave him the usual coin, "She is not up-stairs any 



more." 



In the autumn of 1910 I was once more going on with 
my lectures and lessons, and the cough and fever had 
gone. Besides my lessons and writings I had become 
a busy public speaker. 



311 



CHAPTER XIII 

PHASES AND CAUSES OF NATIONALISM AND 
PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

I CONSIDER the time from 1910 to 1912 as a pre- 
lude to my final plunge into nationalism which took 
an intense form after the disaster of the Balkan 
war. The campaign in Tripoli and its chivalrous spirit 
had vaguely and almost agreeably flattered the national- 
istic tendencies which had hitherto been nebulous. Per- 
haps if the unfair treatment we received from without 
after the disaster of the war had not knocked us so hard, 
we might never have been awakened and developed into 
very enthusiastic nationalists. 

It was the beginning of my acquaintance with Yous- 
souf Akchoura and Keuk-Alp Zia which led me for the 
first time to our racial past, and distinctly further away 
from the Ottoman past. I had been always strongly 
drawn to folk-lore and to the unpretentious but ele- 
mental beauty of the popular literature, and so the early 
days of the race allured me as perhaps the purest sources 
of the unwritten poetry and stories of the nation. Cul- 
tural curiosity as well as the tyranny of external events 
was throwing most intellectual Turks back into an in- 
tense study of the beginnings of the race. 

Nationalism in Turkey has more than one phase and 

312 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

name as well as definition ; besides, taken as a whole, it 
presents the key to important events in recent Turkish 
history, so that it is necessary to give a short survey of 
some of the phases of the movement. 

Turkish nationalism unconsciously and culturally be- 
gan with the simplification of the language long before 
1908. But it was a movement belonging distinctly to 
the Ottoman Turks. In writings of Riza Tewfik and 
Mehemmed Emin, who first began to use the Turkish 
meter in poetry and to adopt simple language of the 
Anatolian Turk, one saw that they felt clearly the dif- 
ference of the Ottoman Turk from the other Turks in 
general. Nationally analyzed, the Ottoman Turk ap- 
pears entirely different. He came to the Near East 
and Europe, and there he acquired in his blood and in 
his language, as well as in every particle of his ego, some- 
thing new, something special. Although one may try 
to go deep into the elemental force and character of his 
race, one is obliged to recognize that things have been 
added to his spirit and physique which have altered him 
from what he was when he had first come to the land 
which is called Turkey to-day. In short he was the 
Ottoman Turk and had to be considered as such, and 
everything contrary to his individual development in 
language and culture could not be lasting. To force his 
language back to Chagatay would be as artificial as for- 
cing it into Persian or into French. Hence his simplifi- 
cation and nationalization would take the line of his own 
national genius. 

During the last twenty-five years the Ottoman Turk 

313 



MEMOIRS OF HALEDE EDIB 



has been reviewing his language and evolving it toward 
a subtler, richer, and more comprehensive capacity, con- 
taining expressions and possibilities of an advanced lan- 
guage, a language which can create and propagate sci- 
ence and philosophy. The Turkish dictionary had al- 
ready been consciously simplified on these lines by 
Shemseddine Samy Bey and Professor Naji. From 
1910 forward another conscious effort was put forth by 
the Turkish writers on similar lines. They tried to 
stabilize scientific expressions, and they simplified the 
Turkish grammar, separating it from the Arabic and 
Persian. Keuk-Alp Zia, Nairn, and Fiza Tewfik Beys 
may be mentioned among the foremost who worked to 
find the scientific and philosophical terms, while Hus- 
sein Jahid wrote the modern Turkish grammar which is 
now taken as a model. This was creating a language, 
a national spirit, and a comprehension of culture belong- 
ing to the Ottoman Turks. 

Arrived at this point, nationalism in Turkey, with 
its vastly mixed and acquired characteristics and blood, 
could only be cultural and social in the truly popular 
sense so long as the nationalist Ottoman Turks were 
definitely bound to be democratic in their political ideal. 

Pan-Turanism was a larger understanding and defini- 
tion of the nationalism expressed by Keuk-Alp Zia and 
some well known writers from the Russian Turks, such 
as Ahmed Agayeff and Youssouf Akchoura Beys. At 
first it was purely cultural, but it was developed into a 
political ideal by some leaders of the Unionist party, es- 
pecially when the Turkish arms passed into old Russia 

314 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

during the World War. But politically speaking Pan- 
Turanism never had a clear boundary or a crystallized 
expression or an explanation. Talaat Pasha pleasantly 
and humorously remarked at times, if any one criticized 
it, "It may lead us to the Yellow Sea." What was the 
real basis of Pan-Turanism? Was it the political unity 
of all the Turanian people? Had the Christian Turks 
any place in the Pan-Turanism expressed by the Otto- 
man Turks? Or was it only meant for the Moslem 
Turks, which would be some form of the Pan-Islamism 
of Enver Pasha, who would add racial unity to the reli- 
gious unity he vaguely imagined to bring forth, and 
failed. 

I differed from Keuk-Alp Zia in his political concep- 
tion for uniting the Turks. I believed and believe that 
nationalism is cultural and regional in Turkey, and that 
it would not be possible to unite the Turks in Russia to 
us politically in the way we then thought was possible. 
They themselves follow distinct and national lines, and 
differ from us very much. Besides they would ob- 
ject to being interfered with by the Ottoman Turks, 
however much they may admire our literature. The ele- 
ments and influences which are building their culture are 
distinctly Russian, while those of the Ottoman Turk are 
distinctly Western. The utmost possible and perhaps 
the most desirable political connection in the far future, 
between the Turks up to the Caspian Sea and the Ot- 
toman Turks, would be that of federal states, giving a 
large and free margin to both elements to realize their 
individual culture and progress. But if such a time 

315 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

ever comes, I am not sure that Armenia and Georgia 
and even Persia will not be ripe to join the Turkish 
United States and form a strong whole to protect their 
integrity from Russia, as well as from European inva- 
sion and domination. 

Keuk-Alp Zia was really one of the great thinkers of 
the Unionist regime. Although it is difficult to say who 
really effected the passage of Pan-Turanism to a polit- 
ical ideal, whether it was Zia himself or the leading 
politicians of his party, it is clear that Zia at first be- 
gan it as a purely cultural ideal. He was trying to 
create a new Turkish mythology which would bridge 
the abyss between the Ottoman Turks and their Tura- 
nian ancestors. He wrote a great many charming 
stories and poems for children; he tried to popularize 
his knowledge of the origin of the Turk, and the new 
ideal of life which he was trying to bring into being. In 
some of his first works he used words which were archse- 
ologically Turkish, but which sounded dead and artifi- 
cial. He soon realized his mistake, and in his last works 
he uses the popular Turkish of the country. 

He became the patron of many young writers and 
caused a large number of books on sociology and philos- 
ophy as well as on history to be translated into Turkish. 
Fuad Kuprullu, the scholarly young writer, owes his 
great compilation of historical data on Turkish ances- 
try to Zia's influence, and it was Zia who caused the 
ministry of public education to buy and collect most of 
the available publications on Turkology. 

316 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

It was in the beginning of 1911 that Zia came to Con- 
stantinople from Saloniki, bringing his literary and phil- 
osophical activities with him. He started an intellec- 
tual movement in Saloniki with the review called the 
"Young Pens," and he had a talented staff. Zia was a 
member of the central committee of the Union and 
Progress, which had been transferred from Saloniki to 
Constantinople. For the time being he used his influ- 
ence for the best in the Unionist party. He very often 
came to visit me in my house in Fazli Pasha, and we 
enjoyed an intellectual friendship till 1915, after which 
differences in educational as well as in political prin- 
ciples drew us apart. 

He was originally from a well known family in Diar- 
bekir, a family which has produced learned men and 
poets. In his early youth he had worked on the origin 
and the grammar of the Kurdish language which had 
given him in some quarters the reputation of being a 
Kurdish nationalist. But he had come to Constanti- 
nople for higher schooling in the time of Abdul Hamid, 
where he became a very ardent Young Turk, and he was 
arrested several times as a student who read the works 
of Namik Kemal. He was in Saloniki during the or- 
ganization of the Union and Progress and became a 
highly honored member of this political society. 

He was a fat, short, and very dark man, with a mark 
like the sign of the cross on his forehead which caught 
one's attention at once. It was the freak of a bullet 
which he had tried to lodge in his brain at twenty, but 

317 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

whose effect he had somehow survived. He had strange 
eyes looking beyond and away from the people and 
things that surrounded him. He had the air of a 
stranger, who patiently submits to a strange environ- 
ment, yet he was easily influenced and changed his ideas 
through intercourse or reading much more than people 
who seem outwardly absorbed in their environment. 
His chief interest was fixed in sociology and philosophy. 
He held it to be his mission to guide the social reform 
more than the political reform of the Turks, according 
to the historical data he could gather from the social and 
political institutions of the Turks in their pre-Islamic 
stage. He believed that Islamism, as founded by the 
Arabs, could not suit us, and that if we would not go 
back to our pagan state we must start a religious ref- 
ormation more in keeping with our own temperament. 
He was a warm admirer of the Protestant Reformation, 
which perhaps truly began the nationalization of the 
European peoples. He published the "Islamic Re- 
view" in which he gave rather a good translation of 
the Koran in Turkish. In his ideas of religious reform 
he was greatly influenced by Moussa Bikieff, the Tartar 
Moslem religious reformer in Kazan. 

His most charming work at the time was the "Chil- 
dren's World," a paper for Turkish children, the first 
simple attempt of its kind in Turkey. The "Review" 
translated a great many stories about animals and fairies 
from English successfully. He published at the same 
time his simple Turkish stories, taken from the unwrit- 

318 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

ten lore, and put into every popular Turkish verse. 

As I think of him now, 1 sitting under the green shade 
of my lamp, smiling mildly and indulgently at the sharp 
and rather sarcastic remarks of Youssouf Akchoura, 
dreaming of a better state in religion, in literature, in 
moral beauty, for a better state for Turkish women and 
children, I can hardly believe that he tolerated and even 
developed the materialistic philosophy of the Union and 
Progress during the last years of the World War. 

In spite of his opposition to hero worship which he 
expressed in a line, "No individual, but society," he yet 
wrote epics to the military and civil leaders of the Union 
and Progress, and in later years to those of the Na- 
tionalists. These epics are quoted as among his incon- 
sistencies. 

He was very much under the influence of German 
philosophy, especially under Durkheim. But his last 
oracle was Bergson. He was, however, very consistent 
in one point, and that was about the direction of Turkish 
progress. He believed that the Turk must be Western- 
ized at any cost. Among the many definitions which 

i He influenced me not a little in my writings during those days. So 
far my novels had been dominated only by the ordinary psychological prob- 
lems of life. In 1910 I published "Ruined Temples," and in 1911 "Handan." 
Although I could without false modesty say that "Handan" achieved the 
greatest success of its kind, I was far from being satisfied. However im- 
immature and unsatisfactory I now consider it, I am doomed to live as its 
author. Keuk-Alp Zia told me that he did not like it, and added smilingly, 
"She lives too much in Europe." I was perfectly m-serable the moment it 
was in the hands of the publisher. "New Turan" soon followed and was 
not only an outcome of events and thought trends of the day; it was also 
largely affected by the apostolic sincerity and austerity of Keuk-Alp Zia. 

319 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

he tried to give the Turks, the best is his last one: "I 
am of the Turkish race, Moslem religion, Western civi- 
lization." His book called "Turkization, Islamization, 
Westernization," contains his philosophical and sociolo- 
gical ideas. 

Parallel to Keuk-Alp Zia's Pan-Turanism was the 
Pan-Islamic ideal of Enver Pasha and his followers. 
If in the late years of the World War they seemed Pan- 
Turanistic it was because the Turanians whom they 
thought of uniting with Turkey were Moslems. But 
the ideal had as little influence as Pan-Turanism, polit- 
ically speaking. The separatist tendencies of the Mos- 
lem units such as the Arabs and the Albanians discred- 
ted Pan-Islamism. Besides, the young and the reform- 
ing elements feared it as an element of reaction and 
fanaticism. An intelligent understanding of the aspi- 
rations and the needs of the Moslem minorities might 
have helped to justify Enver Pasha's Pan-Islamism. 
As it was, only the Moslems outside of Turkey showed 
any interest at all. The fear of the Allies about Pan- 
Islamism was quite groundless, and their attribution of 
all movements of self-assertion among their own Mos- 
lem subjects to Turkish influence was and, above all, is 
groundless. It has amused me not a little to see how 
the movement in Hedjaz by Ibn-Saoud is considered in 
the "London Times" (in one of the April numbers of 
1925, I believe) as being encouraged by Angora. It 
would please Enver 's soul, but it would seem irony to 
the almost fanatically secularized Turkish government 
of to-day. 

320 




(Zi 

y 

y 

H 

X 



W 
W 

y 
v, 



y 

o 



r. 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

Nationalism found its first external organization in 
Turk Yourdu, a kind of literary and cultural club 
formed by the Turkish students in Geneva in 1910. As 
it had some fine students from among the Russian 
Turks, its spirit was Pan-Turanistic, at least culturally. 
It issued non-periodical reviews and continues to do so, 
some of which contain unusually fine literature and 
studies on Turkology. The club passed a resolution 
calling me the Mother of the Turk, a tender tribute 
of the Turkish vouth, which not onlv touched me but has 
also molded me in the responsibility of a real but humble 
mother to my people. I am glad of this opportunity 
which allows me to own the godfathers of the title, 
which was generally attached to my name in the Turk- 
ish world, and which is the greatest recompense I would 
have asked, had I been given my choice, for my insigni- 
ficant services to my people and country. 

Another Turk Yourdu was founded a year later by 
older research students, among whom was the eminent 
jurist and statesman Youssouf Kemal. 

The capital soon followed the example. The found- 
ing of Turk Yourdu in Istamboul was chiefly and 
primarily one of the many intellectual undertakings of 
the Union and Progress, but men who belonged to it 
confess that although they endowed it with funds they 
never tried to make a political tool of the organization. 
The organization published a weekly which goes on to 
this day. It was edited by Youssouf Akchura, who was 
openly and decidedly anti-Unionist, although an avowed 
and sincere Pan-Turanist. He made a great success of 

321 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the paper, and it had perhaps more readers among the 
Turks in Russia than in Turkey. Akchura, a believer 
in the superiority of the Russian Turk to the Ottoman 
Turk, advocated warmly the necessary cultural unity 
of the Turks. He wrote interesting articles on this 
subject, but it was amusing to note that the Turkish 
he uses was that of the Ottoman Turk of an older period 
rather than that of the very recent nationalistic Ottoman 
Turk. Keuk-Alp Zia, Mehemmed Emin, Ahmed 
Hikmet, Riza Tewfik, as well as the nationalists of the 
later and younger school, contributed to it. 

The external expression of nationalism went one de- 
gree deeper and propagated itself among the younger 
generation, especially the students. It first originated 
among medical students. The medical faculty has the 
historical honor of starting almost every new movement, 
especially when it is directed against personal tyranny 
of despots and regimes, or the tyranny of reaction and 
ignorance. It had given the greatest number of victims 
to Abdul Hamid's tyranny. But it would be interest- 
ing to note in this instance how and why the Turkish 
student has thought of himself as something separate 
and different from the other Ottoman students of the 
empire. 

After 1908 all the non-Turkish elements in Turkey, 
Christian and Moslem, had political and national clubs. 
When the Turkish students of the universities saw their 
fellow-students, whom they had so far identified with 
themselves, belonging to separate organizations with 

322 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

national names and separate interests, they began to 
wonder. The non-Turkish youth were passing into 
feverish activity about their national affairs, as some- 
thing different from that of the Turk. 

The Ottoman Turk so far had been a composite 
being, an Ottoman citizen like any other, his greatest 
writers writing for all the educated men of the empire, 
his folk-lore and popular literature passing from one 
generation to another, -unwritten by the educated, but 
powerful in the minds and memories of all the simple 
Turkish-speaking Ottomans. For the first time re- 
duced to his elements and torn from the ensemble of 
races in Turkey, he vaguely faced the possibility of 
searching, analyzing, and discovering himself as some- 
thing different from the rest. How was he different 
from the others? Where was he being led in the accu- 
mulation of other desires and interest? Cast out or 
isolated in his own country, he not only saw himself 
different, but he had also the desire to find out wherein 
lay the difference. 

The first separate organization formed by the Turk- 
ish youth in this sense was called the Turk Ojak 
(Turkish Hearth). So it was in 1911 that the first 
national club was founded. The founders were a few 
medical students who kept their names secret. The 
fundamental spirit of equality and fraternity of the 
Ojak was an established tradition then. No member 
allowed himself to feel superior to any other. The club 
was helped by some writers and famous doctors as well 
as by the Union and Progress. 

323 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Two dominant clauses which were never allowed to 
be altered by the general congress, and which show the 
tendencies and the spirit of the Ojak are: first, the Ojak 
will help the cultural development of the Turk ; second, 
the Ojak is not a political institution. 

To those clauses the old members of the Ojak have 
been fanatically faithful from 1911 to 1924. Neither 
the extreme Unionists during the ascendancy of the 
Unionist regime, nor the anti-Unionists after the de- 
cisive downfall of the Unionist regime in 1918, could 
alter these clauses and drag the Ojak into party politics. 

The most active period of the Ojak began when 
Hamdullah Soubhi Bey became the president. By his 
great oratorical powers he obtained tremendous in- 
fluence over the youthful members, and his tenacity 
and diplomatic ability made him persuade all the great 
men and all the governments to come to his aid either 
with funds or in some other way. Besides the majority 
of young students, the majority of Turkish writers 
and leading men also belonged to it, and worked with 
admirable idealism for the cultural development of 
the Turk. Lectures and free lessons were opened to 
the public by well known men, among whom Keuk- 
Alp Zia was the most prominent. Men belonging to 
all shades of political creeds and ideals gathered in 
sincere understanding under its roof. 

The clubs helped the Turkish students from all over 
the Turkish world to obtain their education in Istam- 
boul. The Ojak, which showed Pan-Turanistic tend- 
encies culturally, was against Pan-Islamism, but in a 

324 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

few years Pan-Turanism also gave way to a regional 
nationalism, which can be defined as belonging to 
Turkey proper and the peoples who live in it. 

In 1912 the general congress elected me as its only 
woman member. It was in 1918 that another congress 
chose a council of eleven to modify its constitution. 
I was in the council, and we modified the constitution 
with a new clause which made women members eligible. 
Many Ojaks have risen all over the country since then. 
The situation of the Ojaks in the present time, after the 
alteration of their constitution in 1924 in Angora, wants 
an entirely different treatment. 

As nationalism is considered a narrow ideal by those 
who aim at the welfare of humanity and hope to obtain 
it through internationalism, I have often been re- 
proached by my international friends. And as I have 
not ceased to work for the happiness of my kind, es- 
pecially of those who are nearest to me, I have honestly 
tried to analyze the inner meaning of my nationalism, 
whether it can hurt others who are not Turks, whether it 
can hurt in the long run the family of nations in the 
world to which Turkey also belongs. 

The individual or the nation, in order to understand 
its fellow-men or its fellow-nations, in order to create 
beauty and to express its personality, must go deep 
down to the roots of its being and study itself sincerely. 
The process of this deep self-duty, as well as its results, 
is nationalism. I believe with all earnestness that such 
a national self -study, and the exchange of its results, 

325 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

is the first and right step to international understanding 
and love of the peoples and nations. It is after I have 
loved my own people and tried to understand their 
virtues and their faults with open-minded humility that 
I begin to have a better understanding of other people's 
sufferings and joys, and of their personality expressed 
in their national life. 

I will also admit that there is a narrow, negative, and 
destructive nationalism in the world, which has deluded 
itself with the belief that a nation can only grow and 
thrive by exterminating and oppressing the peoples 
under its rule, or by conquering and suppressing the 
nations around it. Both are forms of wrongly under- 
stood nationalism which can be called by the names of 
chauvinism and imperialism. And the peoples who 
exercised them have themselves suffered materially and 
morally more than the peoples whom they have tried to 
hurt. One must admit at the same time that chauvin- 
ism and imperialism are not the only outcomes of na- 
tionalism. The internationalism of Soviet Russia has 
shown itself both chauvinistic and imperialistic in cer- 
tain ways. 

The leaders of a nation — and the philosophers, who 
are perhaps more effective in the long run — have dis- 
torted principles by following the good or the evil of the 
very first man. There are those who believe in the posi- 
tive action of the good, and try to adjust the good of 
their own people with that of the other nations and get 
their support from the best and the highest interest in 
human nature. It is this idea which is bringing into 

326 



NATIONALISM AND PAN-TURANISM IN TURKEY 

existence the League of Nations, and gathering na- 
tionalistic people as well as international ones around it. 

There are those who believe in the domination of ma- 
terial interest only and seek their ends by exciting the 
worst in their fellow-men, and by leading them to per- 
petual conflict within and without. I shall repeat here 
a conversation I once had with a leader. I shall 
not mention his name, but he will recognize himself if 
he reads these lines. My readers will also recognize the 
methods of those great men and regimes who use all 
means and ways in order to retain their power. 

He was the brother of the chief of the most power- 
ful revolutionary band in 1920 in Turkey and was an 
extremely intelligent man. As we had not then been 
able to organize a regular army, that particular band 
was supreme and held the destiny of the revolution in 
its hands. I asked him the methods by which he and 
his brother got so much power over their men. 

"The essential and dominating motive of man is self- 
interest and fear," he said. "Wherever you govern, 
you must have a strong minority whom you hold by 
those forces." 

"How do you do that?" I asked. 

"The spoils are mostly divided among those, and they 
must be so much involved and so much richer and more 
powerful than the majority that they must be ready to 
go to any length of sacrifice, and fight for the chief 
against the majority whenever it is necessary. They 
must know that the community will not tolerate them 
if they lose the favor of the chief." 

327 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

In Paris only some months ago, a Rumanian youth, 
whom I accidently met, told me about the interior 
politics of Rumania, the banks, the corruption, the 
monopoly of national riches by the political party in 
power. It sounded exactly like the ruling methods of 
the revolutionary band, but on a larger scale. 

My own conclusion is to teach to all the coming 
generations the love of our kind, the constant struggle 
for a higher state of national morality, a better adjust- 
ment and greater equality among all peoples ; these are 
the only fundamental conditions which can make life 
possible and lasting on the globe. It was the selfish and 
materialistic philosophy of the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century which brought the greatest of human 
disasters in the form of the World War. Its conse- 
quences are not yet at an end. The hypocrisy and 
personal unworthiness of many of the world's leaders, 
whether national or international, can lead to a com- 
plete and final destruction of all that has been the out- 
come of infinite suffering and experience for thousands 
of years. The renaming of ideals, which is too often 
a mere political game in the hands of unscrupulous 
leaders, is not enough; it is the rules of the game that 
must be changed. 



328 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE BALKAN WAR 

I GOT a clue of the coming of the Balkan troubles 
while visiting my father in Yanina, through a 
Turkish officer called Sabit Bey, who himself died 
in the Balkan war. He was one of those simple big 
dark Turks, with the innate sense of justice and good- 
ness of his race. He was a very close friend of my 
father and very anti-Unionist at the time, on account 
of the drastic measures of the Unionists in putting down 
an insurrection in Albania. He hated tyranny, and 
during his visit to Albania he was shocked by the se- 
verity of the Unionist regime in Albania. Macedonia 
and Albania were the fields where the seeds of war 
were sown, not only by the external policies of the 
powers but also by the contradictory national desires 
of the inhabitants. 

In the meantime the Unionists were having their 
own internal difficulties in 1911, especially within the 
parliament. They were not only losing their majority 
in the parliament, but the popular feeling against them 
as freemasons and radicals was such that their prospects 
of success in a new election were very doubtful. The 
immediate if short-sighted solution of the difficulty 

329 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

was the dissolution of parliament, and the use of the 
sultan's power to consolidate their position; both of 
these courses were reactionary according to the prin- 
ciples the Unionists had professed in the constitutional 
revolution of 1908. 

The first step was to strike out the thirty-fifth clause 
of the constitution, which had been added in 1908 in 
order to modify the thirteenth article of the constitution 
of 1876, the article which gave the sultan the right of 
dissolution, by means of which Abdul Hamid had dis- 
solved the parliament of 1876. Now the Unionists 
wanted to give back the right of dissolution to Sultan 
Mehemmed Reshad, who was playing safely in their 
hands. The parliament refused to vote the abolition 
of Clause 35, and so the Young Turks had to persuade 
the senate to step in and take advantage of the dif- 
ference between the government and the parliament, 
which seemed insoluble, and to use their prerogative 
of voting the dissolution. The first Young Turkish 
parliament was dissolved on Jaunary 5, by the Young 
Turks themselves, but the result of this first reactionary 
step was destined to recoil upon themselves. For be- 
fore three months had passed over their new parlia- 
ment, a semi-revolutionary and military organization 
called the Saviors of the Nation gathered in Maltepe 
and demanded the dissolution of the new parliament 
and the formation of a cabinet composed of impartial 
men. The senate once more dissolved the parliament, 
and what is called the Great Cabinet was formed under 
Gazi Mouhtar Pasha, with a large number of old 

330 



THE BALKAN WAR 

grand vizirs and other members known for their hatred 
of the Unionists. 

The Great Cabinet, as well as that of Kiamil Pasha 
which succeeded it, representing the opposition, the 
Entente Liberale, retained power about six months. 
It was a period of utter disillusion. They repeated 
every single misdeed of their political rivals, and the 
only motive which seemed to dominate them was their 
hatred and mistrust of the Unionists. I believe that 
it was their utter incapacity and lack of ideals and their 
repetition of courts martial and imprisonment which 
made the best of the Turkish world cast in its lot with 
the Union and Progress. 

In June I once more went to visit Miss Isabel Fry 
in England, and it was during this visit that I wrote 
the "New Turan." 

As Miss Fry left for Dublin before the end of my 
visit I took a flat in Cambridge Terrace, where Dr. 
Riza Tewfik had lived before me. In the solitude and 
the discreet half-light of the English atmosphere I 
worked well. The noise which one may expect of the 
great traffic of London is so smooth and even, and the 
life of the great city is so softly tuned down to a strange 
order, as if all passed through a padded screen before 
it reached you, that it throws one entirely into oneself. 
No atmosphere is more restful and favorable to crea- 
tive work than that of London for an unknown and 
young writer. The isolation is so complete that one 
is forced to dig into one's inner resources. 

Every day about noon I walked out into the streets. 

331 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

It was my only plunge into the city, and it made me 
feel like a drop of oil on the surface of an ocean, always 
apart and unassimilated despite its infinitesimal size. I 
was much criticized, mostly by the allied press, because 
of "New Turan," and I have often smiled to think of 
the place where I wrote it. No book has been more 
misunderstood. In the outer world it has been held 
largely responsible for the faults of the Unionists, while 
in Turkey it was taken to represent a formulated doc- 
trine of nationalism. 

The book is a political and national Utopia, but not 
so far away from possibilities as one may suppose 
a Utopia to be. It looks forward to a New Turkey 
where a chastised and matured Union and Progress has 
taken the reins of power, where women have the vote, 
and where women work with the qualities of head and 
heart which characterize the best Turkish women. The 
simplicity and the austerity of their lives have become 
different since the magnificent days of the Ottomans, 
with the unhealthy luxury and parasitic tendencies of 
a class of women which only a high but degenerate civili- 
zation like the Ottoman creates. The highest ideal is 
work and simplicity. There is not only a Turkey that 
is nationalized in its culture, but there is also a Turkey 
that is liberal and democratic in politics. Above all, 
there is no chauvinism in the administrative system. 
The book, which has the usual love-story, has not much 
pretension to art, but its practically worked out ideals 
will, I firmly believe, be at least partly realized. 

About the end of August, 1912, Turkey entered the 

332 



THE BALKAN WAR 

Balkan war. The splitting up of the internal control 
and the loss of Turkish prestige in Albania hastened 
the Balkan alliance, and Turkey received the famous 
ultimatum. The war was declared by the Great 
Cabinet. 

Mr. Asquith's government officially declared that the 
status quo would be respected, whatever the results of 
the war should be. 

The result was one of the greatest defeats in Turk- 
ish history, with the massacre of three thousand Mace- 
donian Turks and Moslems — one of the greatest mas- 
sacres of the last hundred years. 

The declaration of Mr. Asquith's cabinet was evi- 
dently a simple precaution in case of Turkish victory, 
and the massacres did not arouse one quarter of the 
indignation which the Armenian massacres had done. 
These facts spoke bitterly in Turkey against Europe, 
and in the Islamic worlds in Asia. I believe that the 
two different measures meted out by Europe to the 
Moslem Turks and to the Christian peoples in Turkey 
keenly intensified nationalism in Turkey. They also 
aroused the feeling that in order to avoid being extermi- 
nated the Turks must exterminate others. As the Bul- 
garian victory made the world overlook the crimes of her 
revolutionaries — crimes of which the Bulgarians them- 
selves surely did not approve, for they are a kindly race 
— so any other nation in the East could hope to have all 
her massacres forgotten, so long as she could impose 
respect with her victorious force. I am sorry to put the 
case so brutally, but I am only relating the effect on the 

333 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Turks of the European diplomacy of those days, and its 
responsibility for the bloodier development of later 
years. 

On the other hand, there has never been a worse 
managed war than the Balkan war. The lack of sani- 
tary organization, the badness of the service behind the 
lines was deplorable. The sheep starved in the cars, 
and the flour rotted at the depots, while less than a mile 
away men died of hunger. When the Turkish refugees 
flocked in panic to Constantinople to escape from mas- 
sacre, when cholera broke out among the immigrants 
and in the army, when one saw an entire population 
dying in the mosque yards under the icy grip of winter, 
the sight of the misery in Constantinople seemed too 
grim to be true. 

Granny went over to Scutari, which she considered 
holy ground, being on the Asiatic continent, where 
Mecca is. My servants left for their own country, and 
I sent my children to Broussa. The march of the Bul- 
garian army on Constantinople seemed more than prob- 
able. My sister arrived among the refugees from 
Adrianople and passed on to Scutari. Most of the 
families left Constantinople. I stayed in Fatih at 
Nakie Hanum's house and worked with the women of 
the Taali-Nisvan Club for relief and nursing. 

We, with some teachers and some educated Turkish 
women, had formed that first women's club. Its ulti- 
mate object was the cultivation of its members. It had 
a small center where the members took lessons in French 
and English. It also opened classes for a limited num- 

334 



THE BALKAN WAR 

ber of Turkish women to study Turkish, domestic 
science, and the bringing up of children. We had Mrs. 
Harden, of Guedik Pasha school, and Mrs. Bowen, 
who helped us in the teaching of English, as well as 
in lending us the Hall of Guedik Pasha school, where 
we opened a series of lectures for women. There was 
a feministic tendency in the club, but as a whole it kept 
within the bounds of usefulness and philanthropy, and 
we tried to maintain a quiet tone, avoiding propaganda, 
which becomes so ugly and loud and offers such an 
easy way to fame for any one who can make sufficient 
noise. 

The club organized and opened a small hospital with 
thirty beds in Istamboul. A young surgeon and a 
chemist, both husbands of club members, volunteered 
to help; the beds and equipment were provided by the 
members; and one member lent a house. We took only 
privates. As the Balkan war saw Turkish women 
nursing men for the first time, any little human incident 
became a tremendous scandal. 

I came every morning from Fatih and returned to 
it late every evening. The streets were deserted except 
for the refugees shivering in the mud, and sick or 
wounded soldiers who had arrived late, staggering, or 
leaning against the walls or each other for support. 

I realized then the extent of my affection for my 
people and for my land. I cannot make out which I 
loved best, but I felt my love was personal and incurable 
and had nothing to do with ideas, thoughts, or politics, 
that in fact it was physical and elemental. Very often 

335 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I was the only woman crossing Sultan Ahmed Square. 
I had on my loosest and oldest charshaf, and often 1 
would stand in the middle of the square and think with 
infinite sadness of an alien army marching toward it. 
I had a foolish desire to stoop and kiss the very stones 
of the place, so passionately did I love it. No force 
could have dragged me away from Constantinople. 
I belonged to the place, and whatever its fate, I meant 
to share it. 

I bought the newspapers every morning, though they 
reported nothing but a series of national disasters. But 
I had to go to the hospital with a calm face. I knew 
beforehand how those Anatolian eyes would look at me, 
proud in spite of the tragic curiosity and anxiety in their 
childish depths. 

"Good morning, sister. How are you to-day?" I 
knew what it meant, but I went on with the usual work, 
the early visit of the doctor, and the painful dressing 
of wounds which followed. 

There was an Angora man who stayed in my mind 
rather as a symbol of the Anatolia of those days. He 
must once have been a fine specimen of manly beauty. 
He had those dark greenish eyes and long lashes and 
the tall physique of his region, but now he had turned 
into a huge skeleton. He had gone from Albania to 
Yemen, and after seven years of it he had been sent 
home three months ago, broken with malaria and hard- 
ship, his intelligence almost extinguished. Hardly had 
he arrived in Constantinople when he was sent to the 
Balkan front. He was wounded in both legs, and both 

336 



THE BALKAN WAR 

were in danger of gangrene. He had to be isolated, 
and the surgeon meant to go through a series of opera- 
tions before giving him up to amputation. His heart 
was not in a state to bear chloroform, and he had to go 
through it all as best he could. 

Then I saw how an ordinary Turkish soldier who has 
lost all except his sense of manhood bears pain. He 
had almost forgotten his mother-tongue in the desert 
and had not learned much Arabic; somehow he had 
ceased to need speech. The doctor made him under- 
stand that he was not to move his leg during the op- 
eration. 

He remained rigid, as if he were a piece of unyielding 
iron. He closed his eyes, clenched his teeth, and lay as 
still as a dead man, crushing my hand, which he always 
humbly asked to hold in his. 

In a week the danger of gangrene was over, and we 
transferred him to the common room, where we fought 
against his malaria. During the last days of his con- 
valescence he recovered his memory and interest in life 
to a certain degree, and got me to write his letters to 
his village. He was going back and wanted his fields 
got ready for barley sowing. 

Another case which twined around my heart was of 
a Macedonian. His legs were both wounded, and his 
arm had been broken in great pain after what was 
probably a bad setting. He asked to be allowed to 
sit up in bed, and he would rock himself to and fro. 
I soon found out that the rocking and the hardly audi- 
ble moans were not for the arm. He had left a little 

337 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

girl and a wife in Sketche, and the place had been taken 
by the Bulgarians. The usual stories about the mas- 
sacres and atrocities had been circulated, and his people 
had not turned up yet. There was an immigration 
commission in the municipality, and to it I used to send 
some one regularly to find out about the baby named 
Hadije, aged four, and the woman called Emine, aged 
twenty-five. Each morning I had to go into the room 
and face the dumb despair in that man's eyes. Some- 
times I said: "It is a long way off. They may turn 
up yet. She could not walk like the others with a 
child." 

"She has an ox-cart," he would say through clenched 
teeth and go on rocking. 

The resigned and pathetic patience and the dumb 
dignity of the suffering of these men was past belief. 
They were so much ashamed of their defeat that they 
received every bit of kindness, even nursing, with 
apologetic gratitude. 

Every evening as I left the hospital I heard the news- 
paper boys shouting their special editions, which always 
contained a new Turkish disaster. That desolate march 
of the defeated Turkish army through hostile races, 
hunted and starving, freezing, only a few of its members 
reaching the capital, seemed like a nightmare without 
end. 

It was on one of those gloomy evenings when I felt 
well nigh at the end of my tether, that a letter arrived 
from Derne in Tripoli. It was a letter from six 
officers, in our one and only machine-gun detachment. 

338 



THE BALKAN WAR 

It was written by their chief officer, who called himself 
Ishildak, and all the six signed as the officers of the 
New Turan. 

It was a delirious declaration of love, but love to 
their land and people. They were feeling that supreme 
emotion which one feels at the suffering of a very much 
beloved being. It was the same sort of thing which 
made me want to kiss the muddy streets of Istamboul. 
They had come back to the defense of the mainland of 
Turkey after their hardships in the desert. The letter 
was so wonderful that I used it in the story which I 
wrote during the Gallipoli period called "The Dream of 
Ishildak." Although the name "New Turan" had 
become the rage, and some shops already called them- 
selves by it, and I had letters from Kazan and Tash- 
kend on the subject, still I shall always love the book 
most, because it supplied those isolated young soldiers 
with the enthusiasm which makes men forget their 
suffering. 

I found out that Ishildak was one of the first members 
of the Ojak, but I never met him. I followed his 
career, which was a series of battles. He wrote one 
last letter from Mesopotamia asking me to give ten 
copies of "New Turan" to ten graduating officers, in- 
stead of giving prayers for his soul, in case he died. 
And he died in Mesopotamia. 

Izzet Pasha's return as well as that of the young ele- 
ment from Tripoli added a new strength to the defense 
of Chatalja, and the Bulgarian army after heavy losses 
saw the impossibility of entering Constantinople. 

339 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

But the event which soothed the national pride, writh- 
ing under the shame of a sweeping defeat, was the 
raid of the Hamidie, the adventures of the phantom 
ship, as the European press at the time called her. The 
Turkish crusier Hamidie had been to Varna and had 
bombarded it at the beginning of the Balkan war. 
After receiving a severe wound on her side, she had 
come back. Although her return to Constantinople 
in her sinking state was considered a great naval feat, 
no one had dreamt of seeing her emerge from the docks 
in the Golden Horn and venture out again for fighting 
purposes. 

Hardly four months had passed, and when every one 
was discussing the gathering of the Greek fleet in the 
Dardanelles we heard of the Hamidie bombarding the 
island of Shira. 

It was a miracle how she had slipped out in the dark 
through the Dardenelles and through the Greek fleet 
which was closely watching at the mouth of the straits. 
Then the Turkish as well as the European press began 
to revel in the real or imaginary exploits of the phantom 
ship. The Greek fleet went in immediate pursuit, but 
the Hamidie went on her way, bombarding the coasts 
of the Adriatic and the chief Greek islands, sinking 
Greek transports, but saving the lives on the sinking 
ships with scrupulous humanity, and leaving the rescued 
on any coast which the Hamidie could approach with- 
out risk. In technique, in chivalry, and in fantastic 
feats of courage, it is perhaps the most perfect episode 
in the fighting annals of the Turkish sea battles. The 

340 



THE BALKAN WAR 

great modesty of the commander, Captain Reuof, did 
not allow him to pose as a hero. On the contrary, his 
strong belief that all the glory was due to the high 
courage of his men, and that the Turkish people are 
always the victims of hero worship, especially in military 
affairs, made him fight down his own popularity in 
Turkey. 

In the meantime an organization of a semi-official 
character was trying to raise money to help the refugees 
and the hospitals. The Taali-Xisvan organized a meet- 
ing of women in the University Hall in Istamboul, 
both to help the refugees and to send a protest to the 
queens in Europe asking them to use their influence 
to stop the massacre of the non-combatant Turks and 
Moslems in Macedonia. 

There were about six women speakers, and the hall 
was more than crammed. Before the meeting w r as over 
women were throwing their jewelry to the pulpit, tear- 
ing their furs off to be given to the refugees and the 
sick. The meeting chose two women delegates to go 
to the embassies in Pera, to ask them to convey the pro- 
tests to the queens. 

On January 2, 1913, I was so weak and reduced by 
heart-trouble that I was obliged to go to the German 
hospital. On January 10 I was wakened by the head 
sister, who entered my room in a hurry and ran to the 
balcony which overlooked Istamboul. She was so much 
excited that she was waving her hands and talking 
aloud to herself. 

341 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"What it is?" I asked. 

"The Unionists have carried out a coup d'etat," she 
said. "They have taken the Sublime Porte by force, 
and there has been shooting; Nazim Pasha, the war 
minister, his aide-de-camp, and a Unionist called Mou- 
stafa Nedjib are dead." 

The circumstances of the coup d'etat were these: 
The powers had presented a collective note to the Porte 
demanding the cession of Adrianople to Bulgaria. The 
cabinet of Kiamil Pasha decided to accept the allied 
demand on January 9. Adrianople, however, had not 
yet fallen, and its long and gallant defense made the 
public bitter against abandoning the city while its con- 
tinued defense was still possible. The Unionists took 
up the popular side and proposed at all costs to prevent 
Adrianople's surrender. They came to an understand- 
ing with Nazim Pasha, the minister of war, who was 
opposed to the cession of Adrianople, promising him 
the office of grand vizir. On January 10, Enver and 
Talaat led three hundred men to the Porte, meaning 
merely to quietly ask Kiamil Pasha to resign. But in 
the general excitement two of the Union and Progress 
party, Yacoub Djemil and Moustafa Nedjib, fired, and 
Nazim and Pasha and his aide-de-camp and Moustafa 
Nedjib were killed. This is the Unionist version. 
The opposition insisted that Moustafa Nedjib had 
orders from Enver to fire. As Moustafa Nedjib him- 
self died in the general firing it is difficult to verify 
either version. Mahmoud Shevket Pasha's cabinet was 
then formed. 

342 



THE BALKAN WAR 

Adrianople fell very soon after, and the London con- 
ference on May 30, 1913, saw the Young Turks sign 
the cession of the fallen city for which they had carried 
out their coup d'etat. Their excuse to public opinion 
was that they had ceded it after its fall, whereas Kiamil 
Pasha was going to cede while it was fighting. 

On June 2, 1914, Mahmoud Shevket Pasha was as- 
sassinated by the opposition. 1 He was a man of really 
high principles, great honesty and capacity, as well as 
a moderate and kindly man. He was mostly attacked 
by the opposition for faults of his party for which he 
was not responsible. 

Ujemal Bey, the military commander of Istamboul, 
arrested the murderers as well as the conspirators. 
About twelve men, among them a pasha the son-in-law 
of the sultan, were executed, and a large number were 
exiled to various parts of Anatolia. 

Djemal Bey had called on me with his wife, whom 
I already knew, after the publication of "New Turan" 
and had warmly declared himself a New Turanist who 
would try for the realization of the ideal. He appeared 
so delicate and sensitive that it was impossible to foresee 
the ferocious energy he was to put forth in reducing the 
opposition. I must confess that I did not like the 

i The opposition had planned a coup d'etat similar to that of the Unionists 
which had been carried out on January 10, 1913. They meant to assassi- 
nate a large number of Unionists, but the immediate and severe measures of 
the Unionists after the assassination of Mahmoud Shevket Pasha broke the 
opposition in its organization. Riza Nour Bey, then an influential member 
of the opposition, and now the deputy from Sinope, speaks of the plan of 
the opposition in his book called "The Inner Secrets of the Entente Lib- 
erale," published in 1918. 

343 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

drastic measures which were taken to punish the political 
offenders. Djemel Bey (afterward Pasha) gives his 
reasons for all his political acts in his Memoirs. I 
asked him at the time to do something for Tewfik, the 
son of my old friends in Beshiktash, who had been ar- 
rested as one of the conspirators. He promised to do 
something, and he accordingly helped Tewfik to return 
from exile. 

Taking advantage of the differences which had risen 
between the governments of the Balkan states that had 
fought against Turkey, the Turkish army marched once 
more on Adrianople in July, 1913, and recovered it 
without much difficulty. Thus ended the Balkan war. 



SU 



CHAPTER XV 

MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

THE years 1913-15 of the Unionist regime de- 
serve to be appreciated for the sincere and hard 
struggle put forth for constructive change in the 
country. I have so far told about the first political 
difficulties of the Unionists, their desire to hold power 
at any cost, their blunders, and their reforming energy 
and courage. But now they began to display a certain 
ability to govern relatively better, and they laid the 
foundation of modern reform, which has continued ever 
since despite all obstacles. 

The most serious reforms were those of the army and 
of finance. Djavid Bey, the greatest financier whom 
Xew Turkey has had so far, cooperating with French 
advisers, chief among whom was Charles Laurent, 
transformed the finance department from a medieval 
into a modern institution both in spirit and in function. 
The customs were organized by our old friend Sirry 
Bey under the supervision of Sir Richard F. Crawford, 
one of the ablest foreign advisers Turkey has ever had. 
Enver began the reform of the army when he was 
hardly thirty-two. He called in a German military 
commission to set the change afoot. Apart from the 
political complication into which this influence led 

345 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Turkey at a later period, the Germans also accom- 
plished their immediate task with admirable con- 
scientiousness. Enver was an admirer of the German 
military system, which he had studied in Berlin during 
two years when he was a Turkish attache there. His 
reorganization of the Turkish army was one of the most 
successful of the reforms undertaken, because of the 
military aptitude of the people. I could cite many 
staff-officers, to-day in prominent positions, and very 
anti-Enverist, who admit that the reorganization of the 
Anatolian army of independence was possible only be- 
cause of the sound basis that Enver had laid. His un- 
flinching determination to organize a younger and more 
efficient staff, his absolute disregard of political con- 
siderations where promotion or punishment was con- 
cerned, are admitted by his opponents as well as his 
admirers. 

Comte Roubilant modeled a new gendarmerie, and 
a number of other foreign advisers did excellent work 
in the public works. Admiral Gamble and later on Ad- 
miral Limpus were called to reform the navy. Admiral 
Gamble has left a name which is still spoken of with 
respect and affection among the young element, espe- 
cially among the common sailors. 

Comte Ostrorog unfortunately could not stay long as 
an adviser in the work of judicial reform. After a 
very short service, with the exception of Hussein Jahid 
almost all the important members of the Union and 
Progress came to consider him very anti-Turkish. 

The ministry of public instruction had no European 

346 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

adviser for years. Both the opposition and the con- 
servatives showed themselves jealous and ferociously 
critical of the direction of that department. Many 
well known men of the empire came to be ministers of 
public instruction one after another, but there appeared 
a lack of clearness about their aims and principles. 

Emrullah Effendi was the first man who had a clear 
idea of what he wanted in the field of public instruction. 
As he believed in the importance of higher education he 
tried to advance the universities, and also to send a large 
number of students to European universities. 

Hussein Jahid, who was one of the strongest intel- 
lectuals of the party, always refused the post, condition- 
ing his acceptance on the adoption of the Latin charac- 
ters, which the government would not do. 

Shukri Bey, who became the minister of public in- 
struction in the cabinet of Said Halim after the assas- 
sination of Mahmoud Shevket, was the first successor of 
Emrullah Effendi who had decided ideas and the energy 
to carry them out. Although I resigned from the edu- 
cational department on account of a difference of opin- 
ion with him on the principles of education in Turkey, 
still I can sincerely admit that his work deserves con- 
sideration. 

When I first went into the department I saw that 
there were a few educational centers which had their 
own tradition, culture, and quality; these were Galata 
Sarai, Mulkie, Dar-ushaffaca, and the two other col- 
leges in Istamboul. They had provided educated 
citizens for the empire and for the new regime, few in 

347 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

number but valuable in quality. Now we had to keep 
up the standard and increase the number at a time when 
we had very little teaching material of the desired 
quality. The education of women seriously speaking 
was begun by the new regime, and in 1913 we had a 
good college — and a normal school. I felt that our 
efforts must be directed toward slowly increasing the 
numbers without endangering their quality, that the 
normal schools should be fused with the colleges and 
that several of these should be united in order to econo- 
mize teachers and equipment, and thus keep up the 
standard, which was falling low in the many normal 
schools and colleges which we opened all over the coun- 
try, and which were only nominally what they should 
have been. 

I worked out my project with precision and had an 
appointment to see Shukri Bey at the ministry during 
the very first week of his ministry. I went to Broussa 
for the week-end. On my return I saw a statement 
in one of the papers that two teachers who were not 
present at an inspection (they had no classes in the 
school on that day) were to be reprimanded. Although 
there was no name I found that I was one of them, and 
I immediately resigned. The ministry had no control 
over me on the days when I had no lectures to deliver. 
Probably it was merely a foolish mistake of some very 
old inspector, but I felt that I had to do what I did. 

Before the week was out Talaat Pasha, Keuk-Alp 
Zia, and Dr. Nazim Beys called on me. 

It was the first time I ever saw Talaat Pasha. I was 

348 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

immediately struck with his simplicity, humor, and 
geniality. At first he spoke on many different sub- 
jects, but he came to the point in a way which showed 
both delicacy and cleverness. He had come to induce 
me to recall my resignation. Somehow he made me feel 
that I was sacrificing my life-work for personal pride, 
and when he saw the effect his words had on me he took 
up my resignation and handed it back to me with a 
smile. "It lacks a stamp," he said. "Do take it back, 
and do not give up your pupils so easily." There was 
intelligence and a lack of the consciousness of pride and 
power about him which so often characterizes men who 
attain power as fast as he had done. 

From this time he called at the Bairam festivals reg- 
ularly and at other times occasionally. He continued 
to do so when I was bitterly criticizing his personal 
politics and the policy of his party, and he kept up his 
friendliness to the last. His frugal ways, his modest 
life, and his charm of the true democrat kept my respect 
and admiration for him as a man throughout. However 
one may criticize him, one is obliged to admit that he 
was the truest of patriots, and that no act of his was 
either for personal gain or love of power. He lived 
and died a poor man, proud to be poor, and ready to 
endure all for what he believed to be best for his country. 

He succeeded during those years in creating a much 
better department of the interior, and he fought merci- 
lessly against corruption and abuse. He used to say 
in those days, "We began as revolutionaries, but the 
time has come to make the law supreme in this country." 

349 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

All this gave way during the last years of the World 
War. Every one seemed to be possessed by one 
single idea, the final victory. No one can fully realize 
how much principle, high purpose, and human feeling, 
as well as material wealth, have been sacrificed and 
damaged for victory all over the world, and what a long 
struggle is necessary for moral and material recon- 
struction. 

Three months after this event I resigned for good. 
Shukri Bey clearly showed that his educational policy 
was to obtain quantity at the expense of quality. He 
wanted to have the largest possible number of men and 
women who would read and write, and he did not care 
for the rest. He went on multiplying schools and 
calling them by names to which the education they pro- 
vided in no way corresponded. In 1915 he also called 
in German professors and advisers who did some good 
academic work for the university. Much as I was and 
am against his basic principle of quantity against 
quality, I must admit that the large number of people 
now able to read and write in Turkey is the outcome 
of his work. Had he stayed longer in power he might 
have had a more lasting effect on the higher education 
of the country. 

Nakie Hanum resigned a few months after me. She 
had created a girls' college which was notable from 
every point of view and had proved herself to be a 
serious educator. Before she had had time to rest, she 
received an offer from the education department of the 

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MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

ministry of evkaff (pious foundations) , to which all the 
mosque schools belonged. 

Hairi Effendi, the great sheik-ul-Islam of the 
Unionist regime, had began a series of interesting and 
serious reforms in evkaff, which was under his control. 
The department had in its charge a large number of 
theological schools (medresses) of an extremely scho- 
lastic and reactionary kind as well as all the primary 
mosque schools, mixed or unmixed. A great deal of 
money was spent on these institutions. Hairi Effendi 
began an able and drastic reform in all of them. The 
medresses for the first time were to have modern science 
taught by modern teachers instead of the old scholastic 
curriculum and the old teachers. The mosque schools, 
which so far taught only the Koran and which were 
housed in little holes, were to be modernized, and a 
dozen schools were amalgamated in one big and up-to- 
date building in an important center. Each was to 
have a modern staff with a modern curriculum. The 
boys' schools were organized by Ali Bey, a very capable 
and progressive section chief in evkaff. The girls' 
schools as well as the small mixed ones were to be or- 
ganized by Xakie Hanum as the general director. I 
became their inspector-general and adviser. 

Xakie Hanum soon succeeded in creating a hard- 
working, sincere, and capable body of teachers. She 
was greatly helped by the young graduates of the col- 
lege whom we had ourselves trained. Her schools 
immediately became the best primary schools in 

351 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Istamboul. The best specialists on educational subjects 
offered to train her teachers, and her own central school 
in Sultan Ahmed acquired an atmosphere of learning 
and happy camaraderie among the old and young ele- 
ments of evkaff. Hussein Jahid, Adnan, Edib, Djavid, 
and Youssouf Akchura Beys were among the staff 
who regularly lectured to her teachers. 

Keuk-Alp Zia was numbered among the friends of 
the school. But when Shukri Bey advanced the theory 
of unity of education, using •the expression in a sense 
which means centralization, that is, to have all the 
schools under the ministry of public instruction, Keuk- 
Alp Zia favored the idea, as well as Shukri Bey's plea 
that no schools should be under the evkaff, which is a 
religious institution. But the curriculum of the evkaff 
schools at the time was more secular than obtained in 
the schools of the public instruction. 

The school centers were in the poorest and farthest 
quarters of the city, in places where I had never been, 
and I got on close terms with people with whom I 
should never have come in contact except in my capacity 
as an inspector who made weekly visits to those quarters, 
studied the little ones, and got to know their parents. 

There was also at this time some change in my house- 
hold. Mahmoure Abla, with her five children and her 
husband who had returned from Adrianople, came to 
live with me. Nighiar, my sister, who graduated in 
1912 from the college and had become a teacher to 
Nakie Hanum's school, came to me also. 

There were seven pairs of childish feet that wore out 

352 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

the oil-cloth on my stairs but brought a new world of 
life, youth, and joyful bustle to the house. 

Granny was living with me as usual, but I had lost 
the old sense of nearness to her for the moment. I was 
constantly out for lessons and lectures, the club de- 
manded much of my time, and my circle of friends had 
had a great deal happen to it. 

My writing I had to do after ten o'clock at night 
when the noisy little house slept and left me quiet in 
my room. Granny also enjoyed those quiet hours; she 
came to me for talks then. She was much shocked bv 
the new women. Their talk, their walk, their dress, and 
their general aspect hurt her. She felt lonely, like a 
stranger in a world where she felt she had stayed too 
long, like a visitor who has outstayed his welcome; it 
was as if the newly arrived guests had taken all the 
room, and they looked ever so different from her. She 
suffered because thev shook their arms as thev walked, 
looked into men's eyes, had loud voices, and smoked in 
public; above all they did not iron their clothes as she 
did every morning. In spite of every difference we 
found certain inner contacts where we met on common 
ground and understood each other. 

In the middle of a difficult passage when my hero- 
ines had to be tended through their hysterical outbursts 
and follies (I had a special capacity for describing 
folly) she walked into my writing-room and said, "Let 
us talk, Halide; I have not opened my mouth for days." 
Sometimes we did talk to her heart's desire, but at times 
I could not talk; the heroine or the hero absorbed me 

353 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

more than granny, and then she walked back to her 
room with a sadness which spoiled my work, even kept 
me awake with remorse. She was eighty years old by 
this time but still appeared in good health, and always 
clean and dainty with a very correct taste, her clothes 
beautifully ironed ; and she never missed any of her five 
long prayers daily. 

Now and then she spoke of her longing for the old 
houses with the wisteria, the spacious rooms with many 
windows, and the blazing lights of Istamboul seen 
through clean white curtains, with simple divans about. 
The chairs and heavy curtains and the little rooms of 
my house distressed her. I must have had some secret 
longing also, for we set out in search of big old houses 
with large gardens. We both knew that I could not 
change my house in Fazli Pasha. It had its own asso- 
ciations, its particular scenery ; it had helped me to stand 
on my feet at a moment when I was broken physically 
and spiritually, and I had written the youngest and 
most passionate if not the best of my work there. 

Once we found a house in a little street behind Sultan 
Ahmed which answered the description — the double 
stairs, the wisteria, the bath-room with old and beauti- 
fully carved basins, and the pointed door covered with 
red cloth and golden clasps. 

We did not take it, but we talked of it, of the bath, 
of the double basins, and of Sultan Ahmed Mosque, 
from which one could hear the evening prayers and see 
the lights on its minarets in Ramazan nights. 

Very early one morning I was awakened by a queer 

354 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

noise outside my door. I walked out almost into 
Mahmoure Abla, who spoke in undertones : 

"It is granny," she said. 

She had fallen at my door with a fit of that horrible 
thing, apoplexy. 

She could not talk or move, but her eyes had their 
comprehending look, intensified with new knowledge, 
which made her regard the ignorant ones around her 
with a sort of pathetic pity. Her unfailing humor still 
flickering in her eyes, she moved her right hand (she 
could still do that) and made the sign of three with her 
fingers. It was her usual sign in her other sicknesses, 
signifying, "I will live only three days." I telephoned 
to the doctor, but I also sent for hod j as who would chant 
the Koran softly and breathe its healing effects over 
her, which soothed her and made her feel safe on her 
road to heaven. 

The only doctor she could tolerate was Dr. Adnan, 
the family doctor and friend whom she loved as a son, 
both on account of his old-world manners and for an 
imagined resemblance to Uncle Kemal. It was hard 
to get him at once. 1 

1 As Enver Bey had come back from his march to Adrianople with a 
severe attack of appendicitis, Asnan as his friend stayed with him through 
his illness and its two grave operations. 

Dr. Adnan was intimate with Enver in Germany, and he speaks of 
Enver in those days as a man of incredible purity of life and spirit. No 
force of feminine charm, no amount of temptation and pleasure, could 
draw him away from his hard-working life and priest-like abstinence. He 
was engaged to Princess Nadjie, whom he saw during this illness and mar- 
ried a few months later. 

Dr. Adnan's intimacy with Enver stopped very soon afterward. He 
buried himself in the organization of the Red Crescent and in his lectures 

355 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I well remember taking Dr. Adrian to her room for 
the first time after her attack of apoplexy. I saw a 
look of horror in her face instead of the pleasure I had 
expected, and it puzzled me greatly. But he walked to 
her bed, took her white veil, which had been taken off 
to put ice on her head, and covered her head, which 
immediately brought back the usual look to her eyes. 

After the third day she fell into a nervous agitation; 
it was as if she was ashamed of not having kept her word 
to die promptly on the third day. In the days when she 
had seemed far away from death and had spoken to 
me of it I used to think that her death would not make 
much difference in my life, but when I saw the moment 
of her final departure so near I suffered atrociously. 
I realized how much I wanted her and what a link she 
was to all that counts so much in a poor human's past. 

On the morning of the ninth day of her illness she 
seemed calm, and I had hopes of her recovery, a hope 
she seemed to read with gratitude in my eyes. I am 
sure that she wanted to feel that she had not been a 
burden, a feeling which all the old carry so pathetically 
in the depths of their childish hearts. She called me 
with her eyes as I entered. I ran and laid my cheek 
against her cheek. That wonderful clean and personal 
perfume, which only the old women of her class and 

in the medical faculty. He was obliged to perform his military service as 
the assistant ad interim to the chief of the field sanitary department, where 
he came under Enver's command. Their relations never resumed the old 
footing. The beloved Enver Bey of 1908 and of Tripoli was now the hated 
military dictator. Dr. Adnan often repeated the saying of our famous 
writer Suleyman Nazif, "Enver Pasha has killed Enver Bey." 

356 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

generation had, penetrated me. I knew that I would 
never experience it again ; it was passing away with her. 
An instant of infinite tenderness, something like reli- 
gious ecstasy, enveloped both of us. I kissed her hands 
reverently, with the chastened and repenting pain which 
I still have at times, wondering if I had done all that it 
was in my power to do for her happiness in her last days. 

As I left her room I thought of something she had 
said in the late hours of the night.* 

"I am afraid," she had said, "of the earth in death, 
but somehow the little cemetery on that Sultan Tepe 
hill, the cemetery of the Tekke" — the monastery where 
I have taken refuge twice — "would not be so lonely. 
I would not mind being there." 

None of her beloved ones were buried there, but it 
was the tiny cemetery of the E Uzbeks, where a few of 
the homeless Euzbeks from Tashkend and a few sheiks 
belonging to the order were buried. The place has 
infinite space, quiet, and beauty. As death then had 
seemed a myth to me in the undying energy of my youth 
I had said, "I will come there too, granny, and we shall 
have the midnight talks over again." 

This had soothed her and she had confidentially added, 
"Even in a cemetery I hate crowds and bustle." 

This conversation haunted me that night. That same 
night she passed away, and we buried her in the humble 
cemetery on the lonely hilltop. 

It was Kurban Bairam the next dav, and I had the 
room full of friends who offered me more than a 
Bairam felicitation. Keuk-Alp Zia was the last to 

357 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

leave, as Dr. Adnan entered. I was glad to see that 
the doctor could steal away from Enver Bey for a 
Bairam visit and for condolence. But I was pinned 
to my chair when I tried to rise by the strange pain 
which I had had during granny's illness, and I groaned 
involuntarily. 

"What is it?" he asked. 

"The pain in my side," I answered. 

"It must be appendicitis," he said laughingly. 
"There are dozens of cases that I know of in the city 
— quite an epidemic." 

It was in fact a grave case of appendicitis, with high 
fever and the familiar severe pain. I felt very grate- 
ful for the attack, which left me alone with myself dur- 
ing this time. 

Eight days later I was transferred to the German 
hospital to be operated on, and Dr. Adnan took up his 
watch by my bed. I was up in a fortnight, although 
I stayed on for another week in the hospital. The ex- 
pressions of sympathy and interest which I received 
during my illness touched me deeply. 

Talaat Pasha called with Dr. Nazim and laughingly 
declared that he was sent by the Committee of Union 
and Progress. Then he fell into a childish mood about 
Adrianople, which they had recently recovered. He 
had paid the recovered city a visit that very week, and 
the impression of it was fresh in his mind. However 
patriotic a man may be for the whole of his country, 
there is always one town about which he must be senti- 
mental, and Talaat was sentimental about Adrianople. 

358 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

"I come from a village near Adrianople," he said, 
"and I shall never forget my joy at the sight of Selimie 
Mosque when my father drove me to the city for the 
first time. When I went there this time I felt just the 
same." I looked away, that he might give free play to 
his emotion, which was evidently such a rare thing with 
him. He looked like the simple boy of the days when 
he was driven to Adrianople in his father's cart, at the 
sight of the matchless minarets of Selimie. 

Some months before the outbreak of the World War 
Talaat Pasha called on me with an unusually happy ex- 
pression. 

"I have good news for you," he said. "We have 
begged Miss Fry to come to Turkey to organize wom- 
en's education. She has agreed to come and study the 
situation before taking any decisive step. You see 
that we are really serious enough about education, so 
I beg you to persuade her to undertake the work." 

I told him firmly that I should stay on in the evkaff 
schools but said I would do my very best to persuade 
Miss Fry. 

When Miss Fry arrived I was rather miserable with 
the after-effects of appendicitis plus a weak heart. But 
it was a great joy to have her. Talaat Pasha and the 
other leaders of the party who met her were charmed 
with her simplicity and sincerity and hoped that she 
might stay. But she was unable to come to an under- 
standing with Shukri Bey on certain points which she 
regarded as essential, and she left Turkey after a 
month's visit. Little did we think when we parted that 

359 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

an endless stretch of war years lay between us until the 
time when we should meet again. 

When we opened the schools of evkaff in September, 
1914, I went to see Hairi Effendi, the sheik-ul-Islam, 
to discuss some changes I wanted made in the schools. 
The building of Sheik-ul-Islamat was one of those old 
and very Turkish departments looking over the Golden 
Horn. The chief secretary, a young man with an im- 
maculate turban and graceful manners, introduced me 
to the state room of the sheik-ul-Islam. 

It was an immense square room along three sides of 
which stretched a low couch. The floor had a red and 
blue carpet. There was a big bronze brazier in the 
middle of the room, and a single beautiful crystal chan- 
delier hung from the middle of the ceiling. The sense 
of space, simplicity, and comfort was only disturbed by 
the modern American desk, which seemed out of har- 
mony and too small. 

Beneath the windows the Golden Horn stretched out; 
numberless old sailing-boats danced on the waters, sails 
down and masts waving in the sun. Hairi Effendi's tall 
figure cut strangely across the view, as he walked down 
the room in the immense folds of his black gown. He 
had a dark face with a long, hooked and crooked nose, 
bright black eyes, and his white turban very gracefully 
wound around his fez. 

In spite of the unusual beauty of the place and the 
picturesque garments of the sheik-ul-Islam, there was 

360 




w 
p 

PS 
W 
H 



C 



e 

B 






MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

something so simple in his handclasp and cordial man- 
ners that I immediately sat down by the desk and took 
out my note-book. He leaned forward and listened 
(he was slightly deaf) , one hand busily taking notes as I 
spoke. When I had finished, he read his notes and told 
me which of my proposals were possible and which were 
not, in clear and businesslike language. I took leave 
of him with an immense respect for his wisdom and 
practical sense. It is a great pity that he also was 
beaten by the military policy of the Unionist regime. 
Rarely had a regime such a large collection of able and 
intelligent men at its command, but its narrowness and 
short-sightedness, fostered by the clique who wished to 
snatch material advantages from the ugly scenes of war, 
caused it to annihilate its own chances as well as those 
of Turkey. 

My last meeting with Hairi Effendi was in 1922 in the 
tiny room of my house in the village of Kalaba near 
Angora. He had the same sort of picturesque gown 
and turban, and he was as stately as ever, bending grace- 
fully in order to get under the low ceiling of the room. 
He had come back from Malta, and I believe he paid me 
the first visit he paid to any one then. It was just be- 
fore he retired to his own place in Anatolia to die. He 
had that mystic knowledge of life which made him fly 
from it. He would have been of infinite value if he had 
stayed and worked in the forming of the new govern- 
ment. "I am ill and on the verge of the grave," he said 
sadly but resolutely. 

361 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

It was on a winter's day in the same year that I had 
something of an adventure in one of the back streets of 
Istamboul. The street is called Arasta. A series of 
old holes-in-the-wall, which are used as habitations by 
a certain class of poor of the city, form the street, and it 
is an adventure to go through it. I left Nakie Hanum's 
school rather late in the afternoon with her, and we tried 
to take a short cut through Arasta in order to get to 
the main road and a carriage. Perhaps we were also 
prompted by curiosity. 

I had the fashionable black charshaf and veil of my 
class. On my inspection tours in the farthest corners 
of poor Istamboul I used to wear a loose old-fashioned 
cliarshaf, and I never pinned the cape so tight as to make 
the form of my head and hair apparent; and I took care 
to have my face open, although I carefully hid my hair 
and neck. But I had not thought of going through 
Arasta on that day. 

Up and down walked a series of little girls as we en- 
tered the narrow street. They had print dresses of the 
poorest sort, and bare feet shod with wooden clogs which 
they dragged painfully, but they had a saucy and ag- 
gressive way of walking in spite of this impediment. 
One had a dirty baby in her arms, half her own size, and 
the baby's nose was running all the time. Another had 
a broken silk umbrella, which must have had a pros- 
perous past and was evidently stolen property. All 
lifted their dresses in mock imitation of the chic women 
of the city ; all strutted in a make-believe promenade of 
great ladies. I must admit that they made me asham- 

362 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

edly conscious of how ridiculous our class could be. 
There was finished mockery and insult and the bitterest 
irony in their every gesture, when with my fashionable 
black charshaf I found myself in their midst. 

"Oh, oh, look at her!" shouted the girl with the um- 
brella — there was neither rain nor sunshine. "On her 
head she has a caldron, 2 a peshtemal 8 around her belly 
has she. She has a well-ring around her throat and 
wrists, 4 and her shoes are bath-clogs." 5 

A unanimous shout of laughter, accompanied by 
savage and significant movements, inimitable imitations 
but openly hostile to me, greeted her speech. It ap- 
peared to me like a delicious piece of realistic comedy, 
and I would have given anything to throw off the offend- 
ing garments, which displayed my class, at whose ex- 
pense they were laughing, and join in their play. As it 
was, I was in real danger of being badly stoned, or of 
having my dress torn in a way that would have been 
worse than inconvenient. 

I immediately lifted my veil and joined in the conver- 
sation. The human face, especially the human eyes, 
have their force among their kind. A human being 
whose eyes and face are invisible is easier to attack. 

2 This was meant for my hair, which was piled on my head. The women 
of the people sensibly plait their hair and leave it on their back. 

3 A silk or cotton shawl which women wrap around the body rather 
tightly in public baths. 

* White cuffs and collars which showed through my veil and which they 
likened to the marble rings around old wells in Turkey. 

& This was aimed at my high heels. Bath-clogs are very high, very dif- 
ferent from the low clogs which the poor women and children wear in the 
streets. 

363 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"What a beautiful umbrella!" I said admiringly. 
This sobered the owner of the umbrella, who was strut- 
ting about, her thin body in mock contortions of the 
fashionable walk. My back against the wall, I faced 
her thin face with its sharp vicious outlines and feverish 
eyes. Calm, amused, laughing with them at their gibes 
and sarcastic remarks, I disarmed the little crowd for a 
moment. But the moment I made the slightest show of 
movement they all bent down, picked up stones from the 
old pavement, and got ready in case I should escape. I 
had to advance very carefully, keeping them amused 
with my conversation. The little girl carrying the big 
baby in her arms became my enemy instantly. She re- 
sented my compliment to the umbrella, whose owner she 
evidently disliked. 

"She has a caldron on her head," she began again, re- 
peating the rest in a very clever rhythm. 

The owner of the umbrella interfered. "Thou shut 
up, thou faceless [shameless] one. Thy sister has also 
a tight charshaf, a red one. She goes to the mosque in 
it. She puts powder on her face and paints her cheeks." 

"Of course. It suits her. She will do as she likes. 
What is it to thee, thou monkey-face?" 

This was from my adversary. But the umbrella was 
equal to anything. 

"Thou art a monkey-face. Thy sister is black, and 
she looks like egg-plant with yogurt over it when she 
puts on powder." 

"Her lover gives her all that. Does thy sister have a 
lover? Answer that, or I throw stones at thee." 

364 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

"She cannot," said the umbrella to me consolingly. 
"She has that Gipsy bastard in her arms." 

The pantomime and the comical quarrel had drawn 
the little mob's attention away from me, so I talked and 
edged along the wall, still facing the crowd. So long- 
as they were not aware of my efforts to escape they did 
not attack, but the moment they realized the meaning 
of my movements they united against me. 

"Shame to thee! Thou hast taken sides with the 
stranger" (every one outside Arasta is a stranger) ; this 
was from the little girl with the baby to the umbrella. 

I stuck fast to the umbrella and flattered her shame- 
lessly. "Who is her sister's lover?" I asked. 

The other one answered with rage: "What is it to 
thee? It is the driver Noah. lie brings her the pow- 
der and the red charshaf. Does her sister have a lover? 
Tell me now." 

Thev nearlv came to blows over Noah, but we were 
now near the corner. The butcher and the seller of 
pickles ran with sticks as they saw us coming with the 
queer little mob after us. At sight of them the mob 
dispersed with wild shrieks. 

The butcher looked as proud as a medieval knight who 
had just rescued a lady. "Never pass along that street 
when it is dark, especially dressed as you are," he said. 
"They stone and tear people's clothes. I have saved a 
number of people." 

I did not believe in the heroic rescues of the butcher, 
but I thought his advice botli sound and useful. In the 
streets of Fatih, Jihanghir, and Kassim Pasha I always 

365 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

took care to let my dress resemble that of the other 
women of the neighborhood, and I never closed my veil. 
I made friends with many children similar to those of 
Arasta, and they even gave me their henna-covered but 
dirty little hands and led me through the intricate back 
streets, telling me about their people and their personal 
affairs and calling me "lady aunt" in a sweet and slightly 
protecting way. 

None of the old teachers of evkaff lost their place 
when Nakie Hanum undertook to modernize the mosque 
schools. She trained them, giving them only Koran, 
domestic science, and sometimes history courses to teach. 
They made a great effort to accustom themselves to the 
new atmosphere, for material reasons at first, but later 
on because the warm fraternity of the organization at- 
tracted them genuinely. In some ways the older ones 
seemed more familiar with the peculiar needs of the chil- 
dren and their families than did the younger ones, and 
some of them had the charm of old-fashioned Turkish 
manners, which one rarely found in the new generation 
of teachers, although the younger ones had better and 
more up-to-date training. 

There was one little school in Jihanghir with a woman 
at the head who came from an old family and had gone 
into teaching for financial reasons. She had the old 
Arabic and Persian culture and was well trained in 
Oriental history. Her name was Fikrie Hanum, and I 
can never forget the clear pious expression of her face, 
so mild and so serious and tolerant. 

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MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

Her school was always full of flowers, and the old bare 
boards were always scrubbed and clean, while her white 
curtains were always gleaming. Her little ones had ac- 
quired something of her personal charm of manners; 
they were individual little women and little men instead 
of only students. They took care of the flowers in the 
garden, felt proud of their happy little place, and talked 
to one with unconscious grace and freedom. Their gar- 
den was like an eagle's nest, perched over the wonderful 
beauty of the Bosphorus, with countless ledges of 
brightly colored earth and here and there plantations 
between the garden and the foaming blue waters of the 
narrow winding Bosphorus. The garden was full of 
geraniums and carnations, lovely bright reds; and the 
place had wooden stools made by the little boy students, 
where one could sit and watch the children play. 

Nakie Hanum gave her a young assistant who intro- 
duced more scientific teaching, while she went on with 
the general care and religious teaching. Youth and 
change had appeared to her harsh and ugly at first, but 
in time she became one of Xakie Hanum's most loyal 
and loving hands. The little schools with three grades 
had usually these older ladies with young assistants; but 
the six-graded ones, which were being newly opened in 
larger centers with modern buildings, were run with 
completely young staffs. It was good to see them grap- 
ple with their problems and meet their successes and 
failures. 

An event in the old school which we had left with 

367 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Nakie Hanum brought about a public discussion be- 
tween Shukri Bey and myself, which made our breach 
wider. We had tried to create a discipline on more 
positive lines, based on the responsibility and the self- 
respect of the students. The old system of the punish- 
ment and exposure of youthful sins and faults was 
avoided, and a relation of much greater friendliness and 
respect was springing up between the teacher and the 
taught when we left the school. 

Nakie Hanum's successor had brought in the system 
of the convent with its exposure of faults and public 
punishments. The resentment which followed had 
broken out into what was almost rebellion when a foolish 
and inexperienced young teacher called the graduating 
class "rude donkeys." The indignation of the students 
developed into a regular riot, and the teacher had to fly 
through a back door to a carriage, the students pursuing. 

The inspector who went to inquire into the cause of 
the trouble ended by fastening the blame on five of the 
first class and expelling them. These students would 
have had only three more months to finish their course, 
and all belonged to a class of people who are obliged to 
work ; the disgrace would mean lifelong unemployment. 
Knowing this to be the case the inspector called on them 
and told the students that if they would sign a paper 
stating that Halide and Nakie Hanums had had the riot 
arranged, they should have their diplomas. As the girls 
had not seen either of us for months, they honorably re- 
fused to sign such a false document, though the inspector 
tried hard to make them do it. I cannot believe that 

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MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

Shukri Bey would have stooped to such a low trick. 
The inspector, knowing our difference with Shukri Bey, 
probably wanted to get promotion by this means. A 
public discussion between me and Shukri Bey in the 
papers made Shukri Bey keener to get the schools of 
evkajf into the ministry of public instruction through 
the pretext of unity of instruction. A violent propa- 
ganda for this change began. Hairi Effendi being a 
moderate and Shukri Bey an extremist in the party in 
those days, Shukri Bey gradually carried his point, and 
Hairi Effendi resigned. 

I met Shukri Bey personally in 1924. His efforts 
with German aid for the improvement of the higher 
schools and the university since 1916 had resulted in 
raising the standards. I saw that with years he had 
also realized the importance of the quality of his teach- 
ing, and he was doing his best. I sometimes think that it 
might have been worth while for Xakie Hanum at least 
to have come to an agreement with Shukri Bey. 

In 1914 I wrote a little play for Nakie Hanum's chil- 
dren. It gave me much childish joy, and it took me 
only six hours, one single evening, to write it. It was 
called "The Shepherds of Canaan." The subject was 
the story of Joseph and his brethren. It had three pro- 
logues and three acts. It was never published in book 
form, except in a much shortened form as the libretto of 
an opera composed by Vedi Sabra, a celebrated Syrian 
musician. 

Yahia Kemal, the purist poet of the Turkish 

369 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

language, rehearsed the children and I worked with 
Ertogrul Mouhsin, our famous actor, to design the stage 
and the costumes. The stage was white, as well as the 
curtains. A single archaic white arch was the entrance. 
In the background there were real palms in the first act. 
These, with Pharaoh's throne in the second and third 
acts, were the only furniture on the stage. The little 
ones had gorgeous colored mantles in every brilliant 
shade, head-dresses, and bare feet. The glare of mixed 
color against the white background, and the childish 
groups moving and acting as only children can act, satis- 
fied me completely. A few artists and intellectuals 
found pleasure in the setting, but the play was criticized 
by the general public. The performance took place in 
the Turk Ojak before a very large audience. It had 
caused us some hesitation to put a prophet and a passage 
of sacred history on the stage, but there was no public 
displeasure over this. 

The Ojak pulpit and hall were during these years 
open for lectures, plays, and concerts meant to elevate 
the taste of the general public. It was here that the 
custom of mixed audiences was first begun. Thanks to 
the discreet and really perfect manners of the young 
men then in the Ojak the event passed without any gos- 
sip or criticism. It is in that same hall that I addressed 
a large audience of men. Within a year this came to 
seem quite natural, and I had to do a great deal of public 
speaking to audiences of every description in and outside 
the Ojak. 

370 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

It is in that hall that I came to know Goumitas Varta- 
bet, the Armenian priest, musician, and composer. He 
was one of those musicians, actors, and lecturers of 
fame whom the Ojak invited to address its weekly audi- 
ences. 6 

Goumitas had become very famous with the Anatolian 
songs and the music of the old Gregorian chants which 
he had collected during years of patient labor in Con- 
stantinople and Anatolia. He had trained a choir of 
the Armenian youth and was considered a great leader 
among the Armenians. 

As he appeared in the long black coat of the priest, 
his dark face as naive as any simple Anatolian's, and his 
eyes full of the pathos and longing which his voice ex- 
pressed in its pure strong notes, I felt him an embodi- 
ment of Anatolian folk-lore and music. 

The airs were the ones I had often heard our servants 
from Kemah and Erzeroum sing. He had simply 
turned the words into Armenian. But I did not pay 
any attention to the language ; I only felt the inner sig- 
nificance of that tender and desolate melody from the 
lonely wastes of Anatolia. 

The acquaintance that began that day continued, 
Goumitas often coming to my house to sing. He con- 
tinued to come even after the Armenians and Turks 
were massacring each other. We both silently suffered 

« Opinion was divided in the Ojak about the program for the weekly 
performances. Some wanted only Turkish things to be given, while others 
insisted that it would have a more widening effect to have the beauty and 
the culture of other nations. The latter point of view triumphed at the 
time. 

371 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

under the condition of things, but neither of us men- 
tioned it. Mehemmed Emin and Yahia Kemal Beys, 
both great poets who had always taken a humanitarian 
view of nationalism, were interested in his personality 
and came to hear him. Youssouf Akchura also came, 
prompted by his love of music, but he declared that Gou- 
mitas had done a great harm to the Turk by stealing his 
popular culture in the form of music and songs. 

Goumitas came from Kutahia and was of very poor 
parents. They knew no Armenian, and Goumitas 
learned it only in later life. His parents were probably 
of Turkish descent, from the Turkis who had joined the 
Gregorian Church. The Byzantine rulers had called 
in Turkish tribes to form a barrier against the Saracenic 
invasions, and though these were mostly put along the 
southern frontiers, some might have moved elsewhere. 7 

Goumitas's voice had attracted the attention of the 
Armenian church leaders in Kutahia, and he was sent 
to Rome very early to be trained in music as well as to 
be made a priest. He was an Armenian nationalist 
whether his origin was Turkish or Armenian, but in 
temperament and heart he was a real Anatolian Turk if 
unconsciously. His musical vein was inherited. I re- 
member the very words he spoke which gave me the clue. 

7 A great number of the Christian minority, mostly Greek and some 
Armenian, spoke only Turkish and looked very Turkish. It was a mistake 
I believe and not good policy to let them enter into the exchange in the 
Lausanne Conference. If a Turkish church had been recognized inde- 
pendently of the Greek and Armenian churches, there were enough con- 
scious Christian Turks, and a very valuable element too, who would have 
stayed in Turkey. 

372 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

"I inherited from my parents a pair of red shoes 
and a song," he said. "The shoes were from my father, 
but the song was from my mother; she composed the 
music, and made the words." 

It was a simple song about two white pigeons, and 
in the purest Anatolian dialect. To this day it is the 
women in Anatolia who compose songs and make folk- 
poetry. It goes from mouth to mouth, and the best 
naturally survives. 

As a man and as an artist Goumitas was of a quality 
one rarely meets. His asceticism, the pure and beauti- 
ful simplicity with which he taught the Armenians, 
might well have been imitated by other nationalists. 
His way of expressing Anatolia both in song and in feel- 
ing was profoundly worth hearing. 

Goumitas one day sang an Ave Maria in Armenian 
which belonged to the sixth century, a thing of rare mys- 
tical beauty ; and the utter ecstasy and religious emotion 
of the air so fascinated me that I asked him if he had set 
any of the Psalms to music. 

"Yes," he said, "the one-hundred-and-first." 

"Are you too tired to sing it?" I asked. 

He had thrown himself into the low chair near the 
piano, and his face was white and full of strange lines 
of pain. 

He began singing without moving from the chair. 
As he began to sing I felt that the air had none of the 
sacred and humble beauty of the Ave Maria. It began 
like a hissing curse, bitter, rebellious, and angry; as he 

373 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

went on he rose slowly, looking like the apparition of 
Mephisto in "Faust," drawing himself to his full height 
as he reached the last words. Then with his arms raised, 
his face like a white flame, and his eyes like two black 
flashes, his tones ended like a peal of echoing thunder. 
It awed me and made me feel strange. I instinctively 
took the Bible from the bookcase near me and found the 
last stanzas of Psalm 101. 

I will early destroy all the wicked of the land: that 
I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the 
Lord. 

It was the cry of the hatred and vengeance of his soul 
for my people. He had such a look of madness and 
suffering that I tried to be absolutely calm and quiet, but 
he looked embarrassed ; he knew that we had looked into 
each other's souls. We were seeing each other, with 
the Armenian and Turkish blood, and Armenian and 
Turkish suffering, as an increasing flood between us. 

In 1915 the Ojak generously used its influence to 
have him spared from deportation, but in 1916 he had a 
serious disturbance in his mind, which gave way under 
the strain of those horrible times. Dr. Adnan begged 
Talaat Pasha to allow him to go to Paris for a cure, and 
this was accorded to him. He is still in an asylum. 

He was not the only one to be afflicted by politics, 
translated into human wickedness. I saw in Angora in 
1922 a Turkish woman from Erzeroum, who had pitched 
a frail tent by the waters of Tchoubouk. She had been 
a refugee since 1917 and had been wandering all over 

374, 



MY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES, 1913-14 

Anatolia with her husband. 8 I see her now, tall, her 
weather-beaten face like a piece of wrinkled leather, 
only the brilliant blue eyes and their black fringes de- 
noting her youth. I remember her very words as she 
told me how her four boys, the eldest eight and the 
youngest two, had been massacred, how she had had to 
leave them among flames and blood and escape with her 
life, and how she heard their call every night. She did 
not sing her pain in Psalms, but it was the selfsame pain 
of Goumitas in my room at Fazli Pasha. I know a 
man, an Erzeroum member of the first national as- 
sembly, who would not hear of mercy to the Armenians 
because seven members of his family, including his 
young wife and his sister-in-law, had been butchered by 
Armenians. I knew a poor Armenian in Syria who 
had lost his speech and wandered in the night crying like 
a dumb tortured animal because he imagined his two 
boys, who were separated from him, had been shot. I 
know . . . never mind what I know. I have seen, I 
have gone through, a land full of aching hearts and tor- 
turing remembrances, and I have lived in an age when 
the politicians played with these human hearts as ordi- 
nary gamblers play with their cards. 

I who had dreamed of a nationalism which will create 
a happy land of beauty, understanding, and love, I have 
seen nothing but mutual massacre and mutual hatred; 

s I have written her story as she told it to me under the title of "A 
Woman from Erzeroum." The women of Angora became very much in- 
terested in her and visited her and tried to help her. She left for Erzeroum 
in one of the groups of refugees that were sent back to their country by 
the government. 

375 



MEMOIRS OF' HALIDE EDIB 

I have seen nothing but ideals used as instruments for 
creating human carnage and misery. 

There were great idealists and lovers of humanity in 
Russia who have suffered and died in order to demolish 
the barriers between classes and nations and to bring 
brotherhood and happiness to their kind. The result is 
just as ugly as what I myself have seen. 

When will true heart and understanding come to hu- 
manity? — not merely in name and principles. Now I 
can only say with Kant, "Ce n'est pas sans une violente 
repulsion que Ton peut contempler l'entree en scene des 
hommes sur le theatre du monde; encore plus grande 
que le mal fait aux hommes par la nature est celui qu'il 
se font reciproquement." 



376 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

IT began with the assassination of the Austrian 
crown prince and ended with the declaration of the 
World War. No one in Turkey during those 
first days dared to imagine that it would end with such 
world-wide disaster. I will not discuss the responsibil- 
ity for it in the general sense. If the economic and mil- 
itary growth of Germany as well as its materialistic 
philosophy were among the contributing causes, we have 
since learned that there were causes and long prepara- 
tions of equally materialistic and aggressive kind on the 
part of the Allies. 

But it is most interesting, although extremely painful, 
to review the pros and cons on our own side which led us 
into the general catastrophe that resulted in the length- 
ening of the war by four years in the Near East, to the 
discomfort of the world in general and to the cost of 
Turkey in particular of many lives and much avoidable 
suffering. Before giving a rough outline of our rea- 
sons, I want to draw the attention of my readers to three 
of the principal works which are illuminating to the 
greatest degree. The first one is Professor Earle's 
"The Bagdad Railway," which was published in 1923. 
Having a non-prejudiced mind and a desire to see the 

377 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

truth, and writing at a period when the thick cloud of 
propaganda on both sides has thinned away with time, 
he sees matters very clearly; and as the work is purely 
economic, any one who wishes to understand the eco- 
nomic dilemma which led to the great struggle finds an 
excellent and unbiased authority in the book. 

The second is the "Le Sort de l'Empire Ottoman," 
by A. Mandlestan, the first dragoman of the Russian 
embassy in Constantinople till 1914. The book was 
published in 1917. He has gathered an extraordinary 
amount of data on the Young Turk regime and on the 
causes which led Turkey to enter the war on the Ger- 
man side. He has one single aim, and all his data is 
grouped and even twisted to prove his point. It is more 
or less the point of view blindly, passionately, and 
narrowly held by the allied world in those days. The 
spirit of his arguments is that the Ottoman empire must 
be torn to pieces, and the Turks must not be considered 
as ordinary human beings, and the Young Turks are 
ordinary criminals, having massacred the Armenians. 
There is a detailed account of Armenian massacres and 
a series of exaggerated accusations with reference to the 
other minorities, whom he asserts the Turks meant to 
exterminate. I do not, however, find a word about the 
great massacre of the Turks by the Bulgarians nor its 
accompaniment of atrocities in 1912, not a word about 
the great massacre of the Turks by the Armenians who 
entered Oriental Turkey in 1915 with the Russian army, 
which has been simply told by the Russian officers of 
the same Russian army who revolted against the Ar- 

378 



THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

menian cruelties. The book, in spite of its data, made 
me see for the first time the incurable narrowness and 
one-sidedness of the European mind of those days con- 
cerning my country and my people, and for the first 
time I saw clearly that the arguments of the Young 
Turks had real force. However, the declarations of a 
former grand vizir, 1 which he puts into his book in order 
to refute its contents, possess very strong and irrefut- 
able arguments and data on the Turkish side. 

In opposition to Mandlestan's views is the third book 
called "Les Causes de la Guerre," by Boghitchevitch, 
which has recently appeared in Paris. This work gives 
a detailed account of the principal policies dominating 
the world before the war, that of czarist Russia which 
had aimed at the crushing of Austria and Turkey in the 
Balkans, and that of France which upheld Russia in 
order to crush Germany and recover Alsace-Lorraine. 
Boghitchevitch, as an old Serbian diplomat during the 
preparation of these policies and during the World 
War, gives interesting political documents on the sub- 
ject. 

I am against war in general, and so I cannot defend 
our going into it on any side, but if one disentangles the 
mass of knotted political arguments of the day and 
tries to see clearly the psychology of the Young Turk 
leaders who entered the war, one sees these causes: 
First, the desire for complete independence ; that is, the 
abolition of the capitulations. The Young Turks tried 
hard, but in vain, to enlist the sympathies of the Allies. 

i"Le Sort de l'Empire Ottoman," p. 106. 

379 



MEMOIRS OF HAUDE EDIB 

But the Allies wanted their neutrality without paying 
anything in return. Secondly, the inherited and justi- 
fied fear of Russian imperialism. Whether Constan- 
tinople was promised in 1914 or in 1916 to Russia, the 
Young Turk leaders believed that England must use 
Turkey as a bait to catch Russia, to whom she was a 
traditional and political enemy. Thirdly, the deplor- 
able financial position of Turkey. Even to insure 
neutrality she needed financial aid, and she could not 
procure it from the Allies. A well known statesman of 
to-day told me once that after the refusal of England to 
pay for the war-ships she had confiscated, the govern- 
ment was strongly carried away by the pro-war element. 
If this is not the whole of the truth it is at least a signifi- 
cant part of it, and it shows the sore need of Turkey for 
financial aid. Fourthly, the decided and openly prej- 
udiced pro-Christian attitude of the Allies, who always 
helped the Christian minorities to gain economic, even 
political predominance against the interests of the Mos- 
lem and Turkish majorities. Fifthly, the psychological 
insight of Germany into the weak spots of the Turkish 
situation, and her cleverness in seizing the right moment. 
The Young Turk leaders used all the available argu- 
ments to justify their entry into the war and to turn 
the Turkish people against the Allies, who were still 
very popular in Turkey. It is queer to observe that 
public opinion turned against the Allies and began to 
feel the arguments of the Young Turks justifiable only 
after the Young Turks had passed out of power. The 

380 



THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

Greek occupation and atrocities under British patron- 
age, and the Armenian atrocities against Adana under 
the patronage of the French, were talked of as the symp- 
toms of the allied justice and rule in Turkey foreseen 
by the Unionists before the war. 

In 1914 not only the masses but most of the intellec- 
tual and leading forces of the Unionists were against the 
war. Only Enver Pasha and a certain convinced mil- 
itary group, along with the profiteers, were in favor of 
war. Somehow the war seemed an impossibility, al- 
though a great many people feared it and felt uneasy, 
knowing the strength of military dictatorship in Turkey. 

1 received two different visits and had two memorable 
conversations during the first days of October. First 
came Djemal Pasha, the minister of marine, who took 
tea in my house with Madame Djemal Pasha. 

"I am afraid our government is drifting into war," 
I said point-blank. 

He laughed as if I had said something absurd and 
childish. I remember the determined expression of his 
face as he said these very words : 

"No, Halide Hanum, we will not go into war." 

"How t will you manage that?" 

"I have power enough to persuade them not to. If I 
fail I resign. It would be extreme folly." 

Three days later Djavid Bey called. He had an air 
of despondency and looked seriously troubled. 

I asked him the same question. 

"If they go into war, I resign," he said. "It will be 

381 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

our ruin even if we win. There are others who will 
resign as well, but we hope to prevent it. Talaat is 
against it at the moment." 

On the eighteenth of the same month Turkey entered 
the war. 

Djavid Bey with some of his colleagues resigned. 
Djemal Pasha did not resign. 

He called soon after to take leave. He was ap- 
pointed commander of the third army; that is, on the 
Russian front. He seemed in good spirits and tried to 
explain his change of opinion. His chief argument was 
the Russian one. He already believed that Constan- 
tinople would pass to Russia if the allied forces won, 
and as the Allies did not give sufficient guarantee in re- 
turn for our neutrality, the supreme duty of the Turk- 
ish army was to help the side opposing Russia; and in 
the event of German and Turkish victory, in which he 
firmly believed, he thought that the Turks would be 
free as they have never been before, and that the cap- 
itulations and foreign interference generally would 
cease. 

It is very sad to think to-day that if the Allies had 
consented to the abolition of the capitulations and given 
some assurance about Constantinople the military party 
could not have driven Turkey into war. 

Djavid Bey was in disgrace and was keenly watched. 
He did not leave his house for some time. He was 
sharply attacked and even called a traitor by the ex- 
treme Unionists. 

382 



THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

Djemal Pasha's destination was changed to Syria as 
the commander of the fourth armv. He was to attack 
Egypt and try to keep the English busy and make them 
concentrate great forces on the Syrian front. 

The terrific defense of Gallipoli was the first great 
event of the World War in Turkey. I will not speak of 
its almost superhuman heroism and sacrifice. For me, 
all the honor is due to the common Turkish soldier whose 
name no one knows and who cannot appear in moving 
pictures as the hero of the day. Mr. Masefield's book, 
"Gallipoli," makes one realize the great human and 
great war material which such a nation as the British 
has lost, and it makes one realize at the same time the 
fighting value of the Turkish army which could suc- 
cessfully defend Gallipoli against the allied forces and 
fleets. There was a keen sense in the men of defending 
the gates to the main Turkish lands; there was a more 
than keen sense of fighting against the Russian hallu- 
cination projected in their brains by the allied forces. 

With the allied attack on the Dardanelles, many 
families once more left Constantinople, and I had to 
send my children away to Broussa. 

It was about the time of the great battle of March 5 
that Youssouf Akchura invited the nationalist writers to 
gather in the offices of "Turk Yourdu" and seriously 
discuss their future plans if the Allies should force the 
straits and enter Constantinople. They were to de- 
cide in case of such disaster whether they were to stay 

383 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

on in Constantinople and go on keeping the ideals of 
nationalism in the hearts of the people or pass on and 
work in safer and more favorable lands. 

There was a series of lengthy gatherings and long 
discussions, which in the end took a somewhat melo- 
dramatic turn. But they never lost their hot and pas- 
sionate character. Dr. Adnan was asked to preside as 
the most cool-headed person present. 

First every one was to define his nationalistic creed. 
The younger writers, Kuprulu Fuad and Omer Seifed- 
dine, declared that nationalism was the search and the 
discovery of a nation's ego, and the teaching of it to the 
individuals of the nation. As to the fundamental ele- 
ments of the national ego, they were vague. Omer, who 
became my friend in later years, confessed to me in his 
humorous way that Keuk-Alp Zia, their master, who 
was not in Constantinople then, was always changing the 
fundamental elements of the national ego; they could 
never be definite for fear they might be called on to 
formulate something quite different on the same subject. 

Aga Oglou Ahmed, as an old nationalist, declared 
that nationalism was a common mentality composed of 
four different elements; namely, language, religion, 
origin, and common customs. And around these four 
elements and the order of their importance the discus- 
sion raged. As political tendencies in Turkish nation- 
alism depended very much on the order of their impor- 
tance, it made the discussions instructive and illuminat- 
ing. Hussein Zade Ali, a venerable old unionist and 
nationalist, declared that religion and language were 

384 







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THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

the foremost elements, and origin came next. "A Mos- 
lem negro who speaks Turkish and calls himself a Turk 
is nearer to me than the originally Turkish Magyar," 
he said. Thus he stuck to Pan-Islamism in a mild way, 
while the younger generation insisted more on origin 
and language, regarding religion as the least important, 
and thus stuck to Pan-Turanistic tendencies. 2 

Finally the meeting tried to decide with rather melo- 
dramatic speeches whether or not the writers who sym- 
bolize Turkish nationalism should stay on in Constan- 
tinople or go elsewhere. It was then that Mehemmed 
Ali Tewfik, a young journalist, made a most emphatic 
speech full of rhetorical effect enthusiastically suggest- 
ing that these writers should not only stay but should 
even find some way of being martyred, and thus seal the 
sacred cause of nationalism with their blood. Although 
in those days it was easy enough to get oneself killed, 
still the writers thus complimented as being worthy of 
death looked a little queer. Mehemmed Emin, whose 
name was the first, sat with his hands folded, con- 
templating, and my humble self, who was also among 
the chosen, wondered what sort of death Mehemmed 
Emin contemplated. There were twinkles in many 
friendly eves. And I reallv think that it was the su- 
preme joke in those tragic days. 

2 Although the younger nationalists tried to disregard religion in the 
national ego, in practice they have been far from doing so. There are 
purely Turkish Orthodox Christians who were exchanged by the Lausanne 
Treaty because of their church difference. And it is strange to think that 
Riza Nour Bey, who was one of the Turkish delegates, signed the treaty 
although he is a strong nationalist on the basis of origin and language. 

385 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

The Dardanelles attack passed, but there was trouble 
on the East Anatolian front. There were rumors about 
Armenian deportations and their bloody consequences. 
There was talk of the Armenians having burned Turk- 
ish villages at the front and having massacred Turks, 
and talk of the danger they were creating behind the 
Turkish army by their revolutionary centers. It was 
long after this event that the government published a 
book on the subject exposing the crimes in eastern 
Anatolia. When the deportations became general pub- 
lic opinion was sincerely against the government. But 
the country was then in the thick of the fight, and 
nothing was published on the subject. It was an ex- 
tremely difficult time for the Turkish population; in 
spite of the public disapproval of the government's acts, 
every Turk was deeply conscious of Turkey's danger, 
and that it would mean complete spoliation and exter- 
mination of the Turks if the Turkish army should be 
defeated. One naturally felt that Armenian revolu- 
tionary centers were used as the strategic points to carry 
out allied policy against the Turks. Besides this polit- 
ical argument, which the Armenians did their best to 
justify by their own bloody deeds, there was a strong 
economic one, morally supported by the Germans. 
This was to end the economic supremacy of the Arme- 
nians, thereby clearing the markets for the Turks and 
the Germans. There is no doubt that the foreign policy 
which caused the elimination of Armenians and Turks 
in the vast lands of Turkey took well into account that 
nature fills up the open spaces of economic value, and 

386 



THE WORLD WAR, 1914-16 

that the spaces left empty by the mutual massacre of the 
peoples in Turkey would be taken up by the European 
countries with surplus populations. 

There are two factors which lead man to the exter- 
mination of his kind: the principles advocated by the 
idealists, and the material interest which the conse- 
quences of doing so afford certain classes. The idealists 
are the more dangerous, for one is obliged to respect 
them even if one cannot agree with them. Talaat was 
of that kind. I saw Talaat verv rarelv after the Arme- 
nian deportations. I remember well one day when he 
nearly lost his temper in discussing the question and said 
in a severe tone: "Look here, Halide Hanum. I have 
a heart as good as yours, and it keeps me awake at night 
to think of the human suffering. But that is a personal 
thing, and I am here on this earth to think of my people 
and not of my sensibilities. If a Macedonian or Arme- 
nian leader gets the chance and the excuse he never ne- 
glects it. There was an equal number of Turks and 
Moslems massacred during the Balkan war, yet the 
world kept a criminal silence. I have the conviction 
that as long as a nation does the best for its own inter- 
ests, and succeeds, the world admires it and thinks it 
moral. I am ready to die for what I have done, and I 
know that I shall die for it." In 1922 he was shot by an 
Armenian in Berlin. 

In 1916 I spoke to a very large audience, mostly 
Unionists, in the Turk Ojak on the Armenian question 
and national economics. I saw the Armenian question 
quite differently from the way I see it to-day. I did not 

387 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

know about the Armenian crimes, and I had not realized 
that in similar cases others could be a hundred times 
worse than the Turks. So I spoke with conviction 
against bloodshed, which I believed would hurt those 
who indulge in it more than it hurt their victims. There 
were some seven hundred present. As I finished, the 
youth in the Ojak cheered, while a young medical stu- 
dent called Shukri Eflatoun rose and called out to Ham- 
dullah Soubhi: "Mr. President, I want to speak, I 
want to prove the right to be on the other side." An- 
other member rose and said that the Ojak should not 
allow Shukri Eflatoun to speak as he wished. They 
would not hear a word about it. This seemed to me un- 
fair, but the president failed to get a hearing for Shukri 
Eflatoun. I received the next day a great volume about 
the massacre of the Turks by the Armenians. What is 
more I heard that some of the Unionists were furious 
with me and that they proposed to have me punished, 
which Talaat Pasha refused. "She serves her country 
in the way she believes," he had said. "Let her speak 
her mind; she is sincere." But the number of young in- 
tellectuals who came to my house decreased to a con- 
siderable degree. Talaat Pasha himself, however, did 
not change his friendly attitude. 



388 



CHAPTER XVII 

HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

IN 1916 Djemal Pasha and Rahmi Bey were the 
two most talked-of personalities; they were both 
criticized and praised for different reasons. Both 
very influential figures among the Unionists, they had 
taken personal views about the administration of the 
provinces which were under their control. Rahmi Bey 
was the governor of Smyrna; he had refused to deport 
the Christians and had guaranteed to keep order in his 
province. As the area under his administration was out 
of the war zone he managed to keep order, although 
there were very serious espionage centers around and in 
Smyrna, among the very people he protected and kept. 
Djemal Pasha in Syria had taken a similarly pro- 
tective attitude toward the Armenians exiled there. 
They were not to be molested in any way in the lands 
under his control. He had hanged two rather notorious 
old Unionists, Cherkess Ahmed and his companion, for 
daring to try to start a massacre in Syria. His great 
difficulty was the famine, from which the Turkish army, 
the Arab population, and the Armenians suffered 
equally. It is to his honor that he helped all the char- 
itable organizations for children, for Armenians or 
Arabs alike, with what he could spare from the army 
supplies. 

389 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Djebel Hauran, which is the granary of Syria, was 
hostile and made every possible difficulty about supply- 
ing Syria with corn ; the seas were blockaded, and there 
was one single railway (and that was not complete at 
the time) over which the entire military transport and 
the entire provisioning of the country had to pass. The 
attack on Egypt may have been a folly, but as the en- 
tire war was a folly from every point of view, each cam- 
paign had to be carried through as thoroughly as 
possible. 

In the midst of the canal attacks, Djemal Pasha had 
discovered an Arab plot in favor of the French and had 
dealt with it with extreme severity. The court martial 
in Alie condemned forty men to death, and some others 
to exile. Thus he restored order, which had never been 
so complete in Syria since he began his constructive 
policy of building roads, fighting disease, and opening 
schools. His energies were always most valuable when 
used for constructive purposes. Wherever he so- 
journed as governor the people still enjoy good roads 
and good public buildings and have the memory of a 
period of great security and public order. 

Falih Rifki Bey came to Constantinople to publish 
the defense of the proceedings of the Alie court martial. 
He was then a young lieutenant, but in reality he was 
a journalist and a writer who acted as secretary to 
Djemal Pasha. (He is at present the deputy for Boli.) 

Falih Rifki Bey brought me a letter from Djemal 
Pasha; the content was this: He had been obliged to 
close the French schools and monasteries, which used to 

390 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

give education to the Arabs, on political grounds. The 
schools opened by the department of public instruction 
were not sufficient. The local governments in Syria, 
with the aid of the army, had decided to establish a series 
of schools. Could I go there or send teachers to start 
the work? This was at the beginning of the year 1916. 
My sister Nighiar volunteered to go and started with a 
limited staff. She established the first primary school 
in Beirut, with six grades. People from all classes went 
to her school. The Arabs must have loved it, for after 
the Turkish regime, when there was a great deal of anti- 
Turkish publication, the Arabic papers spoke kindly of 
her institution. 

In the summer of 1916 I had another letter from 
Djemal Pasha. He asked me to go with Nakie Hanum 
and study the situation and draw up a plan for a larger 
number of schools in Damascus, Beirut, and Lebanon. 

As the work would take only the summer months, we 
accepted, and we started from Haidar Pasha Station for 
Syria, with Hamdullah Soubhi Bey, who was invited by 
Djemal Pasha to study the old Moslem and Turkish 
architecture in Syria and to visit the institutions of the 
desert. An aide-de-camp of the pasha accompanied us. 

As I had not gone beyond Ismidt on the Anatolian 
line, I left Haidar Pasha with extreme curiosity and in- 
terest. I have since traveled so often on that line that 
the impression of the first trip is somewhat effaced, but 
I remember well the continual military movement which 
made one wonder sadly at the unknown future of the 
men who passed by. 

391 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

We found out that a Red Crescent commission com- 
posed of doctors we knew very well was going to Medina 
to the army of Fahreddine Pasha, whose defense of the 
holy place is a pious and chivalrous episode of the World 
War. 

That large stretch of bare yellow land from Es- 
kishehir to Konia was desolate and hot in the extreme. 
As the train stopped before Konia, near a little village, 
we spent nearly two hours visiting the place. It was 
a tiny village with twenty-five houses, and there was 
hardly a man to be seen. Old women sat at the door of 
their huts, and little children played about, while a group 
of young women returned from the fields with their 
scythes on their shoulders. The heat, the dust, and the 
sadness of the lonely women were beyond description; 
the younger ones squatted in the dust and asked us when 
the war would end and told us the names of their hus- 
hands. We were in the second year of the war, and al- 
ready they looked as if they were at the end of their 
strength. The end of the war was their concern more 
than any one's. They not only had their beloved at the 
front, but they also had to supply Turkey and her army 
with the means of living. Somehow though they strug- 
gled on six more years in their barren fields, with a hope- 
less wait for their men, which in most cases was in vain. 

In Konia the station greeted us with a scene of misery. 
A large number of Eastern Anatolians, mostly refugees 
and Kurds, were crowded with their families and few 
belongings in the station. They were the remainder of 
the Armenian victims, running from the Armenian mas- 

392 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

sacres. Under the glare of the station lights, huddled 
together in their bright-colored but tattered costumes, 
their faces hopeless and entirely expressionless, as refu- 
gee faces usually are, they waited for the train. There 
was that smell of misery peculiar to a human crowd, 
unwashed, and in physical as well as moral suffering. 

At Pozanti Station a series of new buildings had been 
begun. In fact in every station which came under the 
authority of Djemal Pasha there were new buildings, 
good hospitals, a guest-house, a military casino, and all 
over the country good roads either finished or in the 
making. 

In Mamoure we procured a lorry to go to Islahie, 
where we were to take the train to Aleppo. The scar- 
city of transport was so painfully felt that we meant to 
share this truck with as many people as we could put 
into it. It was a difficult matter for the aide-de-camp, 
who not only wanted room for himself (he was very fat) 
but also feared the cholera and typhus which were rag- 
ing in the country. Besides, as we were the guests of 
the pasha, he wanted us to have more comfort than under 
the circumstances we really cared to have. 

We crammed the truck, and after he had in a military 
tone declared he could not take any more and had seated 
himself beside the chauffeur, we helped those who came 
running after us to climb on the truck. They were a 
Turkish tradesman and an Armenian merchant who 
were going to Islahie. As we had smuggled them on 
board when the truck had started without the knowl- 
edge of the aide-de-camp, we sat close to these last two 

393 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

unwelcome travelers, like two fierce hens sitting on their 
newly hatched chickens. 

At the foot of the Taurus Range, before we began to 
climb the giant mountains, we heard a desolate cry and 
halted. On the road sat a half-naked old woman. Her 
vest was torn, her white locks were unkempt under a 
worn-out fez, her naked toes stuck to the ground, and 
her face had the infinite pathos and loneliness of a lost 
child. As the aide-de-camp asked why she was there I 
remember her lips drooping exactly like a child's, so 
queerly in contrast with her toothless mouth, which kept 
the appearance of an empty hole. 

"I am from the tribe which has gone to Osmanie," 
she said. "They were to come and fetch me this morn- 
ing. They have forgotten me. Oh, son!" 

She belonged to one of the numerous Turkish nomadic 
tribes which live in that region. Was she really forgot- 
ten, or was she too much of a burden and left to die, or 
would they come to fetch her? Knowing the traditional 
respect and love for the old in those tribes, we could hope 
for the best. As we had to hurry in order to cross the 
mountains before dark we could not tarry, and so we 
provided bread, money, and a jacket to cover her old 
bones and left her to her fate. We knew that she could 
crawl back to Mamoure and find some connection with 
her people. As the truck started and she looked like 
a speck on the receding lonely road I felt my heart torn 
with these signs of misery which were to become more 
frequent as we proceeded, but Hamdullah Soubhi 
sobbed aloud like a little child in pain. Whenever there 

394 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

are differences of opinion and action which separate me 
from Hamdullah Soubhi I think of him sobbing like a 
child over the lonely old woman, and I feel the abyss be- 
tween us bridged. 

We reached Islahie in the evening and took the train 
for Aleppo. The lamps in the train did not work, so 
we lighted a candle, and its flickering flame enhanced 
our sense of sadness, at the idea of being so far from 
home and in the midst of some of the worst suffering in 
the country, to which one could see no end. 

The compartments opened into each other, and the 
aide-de-camp went to sleep in the one next to ours after 
telling us not to let in "any dirty beggar." 

At the very next station an Arab walked in, in the 
tattered common uniform of those who go back home 
from the army. He had the ordinary brown oval face 
of the Arab, with its deep burning eyes and a youthful 
beard. He was evidently sick and walked leaning on a 
stick, and he begged us in Arabic to let him into our 
compartment, for he felt too tired to go on to his town, 
which was near Aleppo. Hamdullah, who had been 
complaining of the sonorous snoring from the aide-de- 
camp's compartment, now felt it quite welcome, for it 
left us free to take in the soldier in peace and tend to 
him to our heart's content. 

On the borders of Arab land, in the sad half-light of 
the candle, that sick Arab, sitting on the red velvet seat, 
leaning against his stick, his sensitive eyes full of suffer- 
ing and fire, his low tired voice that poured out his 
troubles, remains in my mind like a living portrait. I 

395 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

remember Nakie Hanum watching in the passage lead- 
ing to the aide-de-camp's compartment, ready to tell us 
in case he should wake, and us feeding the Arab, talking 
to him in broken Arabic, and trying to console him now 
that he was returning to his village. It was a comical 
situation in spite of its pathos, and as we helped him out 
at his station, and he was beginning to pray for us in 
wonderful Arabic, with the rich guttural harmony which 
only an Arabic throat can compass, the aide-de-camp 
woke up suddenly and came to see what new mischief we 
were up to. Looking after the figure of the Arab walk- 
ing into the darkness, leaning on his stick and praying 
for our happiness, he said severely: 

"I hope you did not touch that sick Arab beggar, 
Hamdullah Bey?" 

Hamdullah Bey sat in dignified silence. The aide- 
de-camp added: 

"Forgive me for worrying you, but you do not know 
the horrors of typhus." 

"I do," said Hamdullah Soubhi, with the oratorical 
gesture and tone he uses in addressing a crowd, and 
gazed into the darkness where the Arab had disappeared. 

We entered Aleppo at midnight, and in glorious 
moonlight. It is on the border of the Turko-Arab 
lands, and it is the city of the bard and of popular songs. 
I expected a warm place, but the nights in Aleppo are 
freezing like those of the desert. 

It looked like a white mass, with dim shapes and 
curves under the soft blue canopy where the single 
gorgeous light of the moon had paled the stars. The 

396 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

white dust, the white streets and houses, the eagle-like 
effect of the tower brooding over the city, and a strange 
glare in the white moonlight gave one the feeling of a 
frozen city. We descended to an Armenian hotel, the 
best in Aleppo, and near it from an Arab night-bar wild 
music and ecstatic voices struck our ears. We immedi- 
atelv asked for rooms and went to bed, but Hamdullah 
Soubhi had gone to see what was going on in the bar. 

"Mout, mout," cried youthful voices in an ecstasy 
which might have been caused by some strong drink. 

''Why were the youth in the bar shouting mout 
[die] ?" I asked Hamdullah Soubhi the next morning. 

"An Arab girl sang," he said. 'The youths were so 
intoxicated with the beauty of her voice and the beauty 
of her person that they could not bear the idea of such 
perfection existing on earth, so they asked her to die." 

"Were they drunk?" I asked, for I had not yet seen 
how every emotion shakes an Arab and causes him to 
express it in the most violent way. 

"No," he said, "they sat in their silk gowns and 
smoked their narghiles, and did not look murderous 
at all." 

The whole day we wandered in the streets of Aleppo. 
Hamdullah Soubhi, as a professor of Turkish and Is- 
lamic art, was sight-seeing very seriously, while we gave 
ourselves up to the more medieval charm of the nar- 
row streets, and the tottering old hans (inns) of won- 
drous beauty, where all the old Turkish bards had sung, 
and the great had stayed on their way to Arab lands. 

The train started late in the evening. In a few hours 

397 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

the real Arabic villages rose in the twilight like huge 
human beehives, standing out against the evening sky, 
their blue smoke curling up in transparent waves, so 
different from the thick sooty smoke of the modern 
cities. The air was getting warmer and warmer. We 
must have slept for some time when I woke up to a state 
of things which seemed a dream, so different in sound 
and feeling from what I have known all my life. 

A hundred voices, mostly women, called shrill and 
guttural, "Ya Mohammed, Ya Abdurrahman, Ya Ab- 
dullah." Then a few men's voices joined in graver 
tones, "Ya Oummi" (O mother). 

We were in Horns, a real Arab town. The women 
whose husbands and sons were in the army had come to 
the station because a military train was passing and 
there was a chance of meeting their men. They were 
wringing their hands and calling in inexpressible excite- 
ment to the soldiers in the cars. Some had found their 
men, and there was kissing and love-making going on 
in its naivest and warmest form. 

Nakie Hanum was fighting at the window, which we 
had left open, to prevent bundles, water- jugs, and fruit- 
baskets from being hurled into our carriage. Men and 
women also who wanted a place in the train were try- 
ing to squeeze in through the window. Nakie Hanum 
was defending the window rather cleverly, and with 
force and authority, telling them in book- Arabic that 
there was no place. No one listened till Hamdullah 
Soubhi Bey woke and joined Nakie Hanum in the de- 
fense of our little place, and closed the window. I sat 

398 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

selfishly watching them in the warm and quivering at- 
mosphere, as the women ran up and down the platform, 
wringing their hands. No woman can wring her hands 
like an Arab woman; there is the same life and beauty 
in it which one sees in the inspired art of days gone by. 

As the train moved on their shrill voices rose above the 
whistle of the train, and they ran after us, calling all the 
time. I can still hear the one who called, "Ya Adbur- 
rahman." Her passionate personality and the flame of 
her desert heart enveloped one. Who was Abdurrah- 
man, and who was she? I shall never know, but I feel 
that I caught a glimpse of the inner meaning of that 
black-veiled shadow through its gestures and its calling. 

I woke once more in Baalbek. A bright moon was 
glistening through the broken pillars of the ruins. 

Djemal Pasha's family were in Lebanon at the sum- 
mer residence. Their house was one of those beauti- 
fully built marble dwellings in Sauffer, with spacious 
marble halls, and picturesque stairs and balconies, that 
look out on the wonderful Lebanon chain, a fleeting 
series of sharp misty blue shadows on bare rocks, with 
velvety soft olive green on the forest-covered tops. 

Djemal Pasha was away at the time. The house was 
kept by his sister, mother-in-law, and stepmother. The 
sister was a fine serious old Turkish lady. The mother- 
in-law, who has become one of the Turkish women I have 
most loved, was a lady about sixty, thin, energetic, chic, 
and very capricious. One developed a protective feel- 
ing for her immediately. Madame Djemal Pasha had 
taken her sick child to Switzerland at the time. The 

399 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

members of the household were affectionate, simple, and 
very kind to their servants and to each other. Djemal 
Pasha arrived from Jerusalem to stay only for two days, 
and we talked about the way to prepare our plans. I 
told him that I wanted to see and study the existing 
schools, and I wanted to talk with enough Arabs to 
understand the needs of the country. So I asked to go 
to Beirut and work our plan out there. 

He consented, and asked us to go to the desert and 
Jerusalem, after our work was over, to see the country. 
Although his military project of conquering Egypt was 
no longer realizable, he was proud of his public works 
all over Syria. 

After the extreme measures he had taken to put down 
the conspiracy in Syria, he was anxious to create a good 
government and an efficient system of public education. 
He had seen the strong inclination of the Arabs toward 
the French, based on the educational efforts of the 
French, and he was desirous of copying their methods in 
a less religious and more liberal sense. 

The first man I consulted was Hussein Kiazim Bey, 
then residing in the Lebanon. He was one of the 
former founders of "Tanine" and had been the governor 
of Aleppo. He had undertaken to organize and help 
the Armenian refugees to settle in Syria with real hu- 
manity and capacity, but after some difference with the 
central government he had retired and now lived in a 
large house in Sauffer. I had several talks with him, 
which impressed me very much. He knew Arabic well 
and had broad ideas about the treatment of the Arabs 

400 




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HOW I WENT TO SYKIA 

and the other minorities. A convinced Moslem, he cited 
the Koran and prophesied that all rule based on tyranny 
was doomed to fail. He seemed to have real influence 
with Djemal Pasha in his new policy of moderation. 

I visited Emin Arslan and his sisters, and listened at- 
tentively to their ideas on education. For Emir Emin 
Arslan was a representative person in Lebanon. 

The next day we went down to Beirut. On the olive- 
green and bluish heights of Lebanon there was snow, 
and we had to wear thick coats, but as we approached 
Beirut, there rolled before us a plain with pine and 
banana groves, palms of extraordinary height and slen- 
derness, and in the distance a rich red beach, stretching 
out to the brilliant blue Mediterranean, a sea without 
ships, reaching and blending with the sky in liquid soft- 
ness. 

The poorer population looked haggard and underfed. 
But women of the richer classes, gorgeously dressed 
and elaborately painted, drove about the town in luxuri- 
ous carriages. The famine had not reached its climax, 
but one felt it coming, and the prosperity of the rich 
hurt one's eyes. 

We went all over the schools. Lebanon and Beirut 
were literally covered with French monasteries, re- 
ligious schools, and other institutions. The learning 
was narrow and very much used as political propaganda 
for the French, but whatever was taught was taught 
with thoroughness within those mysterious monastic 
walls. 

We stayed in the Hotel Bassoul on the quay and 

401 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

worked and received our visitors as well. The head- 
quarters was also in the hotel at the time. This led me 
to know the chief of staff, Colonel Fuad Bey, of whom 
I shall speak on a further occasion. 

The report was finished in two weeks. The skeleton 
of it in a few words was this: Beirut, Lebanon, and 
Damascus should unite and establish one common nor- 
mal school and college. Beirut should be the place for 
the school. Each of these provinces should have a 
model primary school with six grades to prepare stu- 
dents for the college and the normal school. Turkish, 
Arabic, and French should be the three languages 
taught. 

I little thought that I should come back and apply the 
plan I proposed only a few months later. What I 
thought most important was the new spirit the govern- 
mental education would have to create. 

Arabic nationalism so far had been in Syria a political 
instrument in foreign hands. Nationalism used for po- 
litical purposes is an ideal turned into a monstrosity. 
Turkey must help the Arabs to develop a national spirit 
and personality, teach them to love their own national 
culture more than any foreign one; and when the time 
came for the Arab to have his independence, he would 
geographically and economical^ see that he had more 
common ties and interests with the Turks than with the 
foreigners. 

The Arabs had equal representation in the parlia- 
ment, but somehow it did not work well, and to me it 
looked as if it would be far safer for Turkey to work 

402 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

with the idea of a future cooperation with the Arabs in 
their minds rather than with the idea of ruling them al- 
ways. Endless blood, endless money, and useless strug- 
gle have been spent in the Arab lands. The defense 
and maintenance of Arab lands by the Turks was not 
what the Arabs wanted; they wanted the French. 
They repented of this wish soon enough though. 

Colonel Fuad Bey called on us several times, and I 
had memorable talks with him. He is one of our in- 
tellectual soldiers, and I remembered him from his 
letters from Yemen, where he had gone with Marshal 
Izzet Pasha and arranged the treaty with Imam Yahia. 
His letters to "Tanine" describing Yemen and the 
famous Imam Yahia were realistic pictures. I admired 
him for his unyielding honesty and hatred of corruption, 
but he was said to be politically weak and very am- 
bitious. I wanted him to tell me about the doings of the 
Alie court, and what I wanted to know most was 
whether the Arab nationalists were working simply for 
a change of rule or for independence. 

He spoke Djemal Pasha's and the government's 
views rather than his own, for I believe he also was 
against political executions. He said that success was 
our ultimate ideal and that if a partial terror had not 
been instituted the Turkish army would have been 
obliged to leave Syria in the first months of the cam- 
paign. Speaking about the Arab nationalists, he be- 
lieved that some were genuine patriots. He told me 
about the death of one which I shall never forget. 

403 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"I came to Beirut on the day of the execution," he 
said. "It was before the government house. There 
were a series of gallows, and some had been already exe- 
cuted. There was one among them who marched among 
the condemned. He had been a reserve officer and wore 
a calpak. He was quiet and seemed entirely above the 
fear of death. He sat on one of the benches and 
smoked until his turn came. He chose his own par- 
ticular gallows, and he passed the knot around his neck 
and said, 'Born an Arab, I have served the Arabs, and 
I am dying for the Arabs.' I was so much hurt at the 
idea of killing this great Arab that I did not even ask 
his name. But the Syrians would know him. He got 
hold of me strangely. I used to stop a moment each 
time I passed by the government place and sent him a 
greeting of respect. I often sat a year later on the 
balcony of Der-Nassira and told him in spirit that I 
would give my very best to the Arab children during my 
stay in Syria." 

When we started with Nakie Hanum for Damascus, 
Djemal Pasha's family and headquarters had already 
moved on. 

A tall gaunt Arab woman dressed in Turkish fashion 
entered our compartment. She had a dark face with 
unusually light brown eyes for an Arab woman. In 
spite of the bony powerful structure of her body and her 
very thin face, there was an invisible force in her and 
an arresting quality in her eyes that were very com- 
pelling. Her veil was especially flimsy, and her man- 

404 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

ner contrasted strangely with her height and bearing. 

"She must be the wife of a Turkish officer," I thought. 
"She is interested in Turkish women, and she seems both 
willing and frightened to talk." So I began a conversa- 
tion. Oh, yes, she was the wife of a Turk and trying 
to learn Turkish, she said. Her simplicity and her lack 
of paint — almost miraculous for an Arab woman of the 
city — gave one the feeling that in spite of her timidity 
and shy ways she had an inward confidence in her 
charms. 

The life was extraordinary on the way through Leb- 
anon to Damascus. Xo people own their land as the 
Arabs do; they make you feel it instantly. The life 
substance of the Arab is much warmer and of more ag- 
gressive kind than of any other nation I know. No 
wonder that whether you enter Arabia as their ruler or 
as a traveler you are soon completely enveloped in its 
atmosphere. You not only speak their language and 
live their life, but you actually acquire their looks! It 
is for the savant to say if it is all owing to the internal 
and contagious warmth of the people or to geographical 
influences. 

The night was dark and gloomy, but as we neared 
Damascus an extraordinary harmony of water thun- 
dered and echoed in the valley, and among masses of 
willow-groves the river Bereda coiled with silver bril- 
liance like the movements of a supernaturally white and 
transparent snake. 

The valley is equally wonderful in sunlight with its 
rich olive-groves and tall poplars, while the same Bereda 

405 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

flows in gigantic sweeps through it all, sending its 
fresh sparkle to travelers who come from the heat and 
the dust and the endless desolation of the desert. 

It is said among the Arabs that Mohammed's fre- 
quent description of paradise in the Koran, "with rivers 
flowing under its feet," is inspired by the freshness and 
the force of the Bereda, which he had seen as a child, and 
again after his march of long days through the desert. 

After we handed in our report we prepared to go to 
the desert, where Hamdullah Soubhi had already gone. 
It was of supreme interest to me to see the desert, but 
I also wanted to see a young comrade from the Ojak, 
Dr. Hassan Ferid, who had organized the Red Crescent 
hospital in the desert. The hospital was spoken of as 
one of the best, and so it was one of the attractions as 
well. 

We stayed three days in Damascus before we started 
for the desert, during which the Damascus ladies enter- 
tained us. I also saw the Armenian orphanages in 
Damascus, which were opened and helped by Djemal 
Pasha, but which were run by Armenians, mostly 
women. The Armenian world seemed to consider 
Djemal Pasha as a godsend, and the women showed me 
handkerchiefs with his pictures which they carried 
around their necks. 

A trustworthy simple Circassian who had been with 
me in Syria came, after the occupation of Syria by the 
French, and told me a very characteristic story. The 
French had brought in a large number of Armenians 
with them, and one of them was swearing loudly against 

406 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

Djmal Pasha in the market-place. A poor Armenian 
woman spoke to him saying, "He was very good to us 
and gave us food during the famine and protected our 
lives when every one was dying in the street." 

To which the man answered, "It is an Armenian's 
duty to swear at all Turks, the more so against the good 
ones, for it is the good ones who make the world like 
the Turks." 

The last night before we left Damascus the ladies 
gave a musical evening in the Arab fashion. There 
was no end of sweets and delicious fruit and of Arab 
women dancing and singing. The singers and the 
dancers were in tight European clothes, which rather 
reminded one of the ordinary Armenian dancing-girls 
in Constantinople. However, there was an old Bedouin 
dance performed by two girls, covered in loose and long 
mashlaks, only their eyes showing, and their bodies un- 
dulating under the silk draperies, moving with the agil- 
ity and grace of the desert people. Toward the end a 
great excitement arose. "She is coming; she is coming; 
I have arranged it at last," said the lady of the house. 

"Who is she?" I asked. 

"She is Hedie, the great Arab singer," said my host- 
ess. "Men ruin themselves for her. She is the mistress 
of an ex-official and war profiteer, who does not allow 
her to sing in public, but he let her come as a favor for 
this time, because there are no men." 

And she came. She was evidently a Christian Arab, 
for she came in European clothes and unveiled. Her 

407 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

gaunt thin silhouette had that force and life which no 
amount of European clothes or lack of paint could dis- 
guise, and she had the typical Arabian swing of the 
body. Although her sleek dark head and light brown 
eyes had no veil, still I recognized her immediately. 
She was the lightly veiled woman I had seen in the train 
from Beirut to Damascus. The unspoken gratitude of 
her eyes as I calmly acted as if I had never seen her be- 
fore was marvelous. And the same adoration of the 
great artiste was as much in evidence in this feminine 
party of Damascus as it would have been in a salon in 
Paris. 

The ladies sat around her and served her with fruit, 
delicious apricots and grapes, such as one gets only in 
Damascus. Hedie had a whimsical smile, very clear 
eyes, a small head, with hair very simply arranged in a 
knot at her neck. She looked somehow more genuine, 
even more honest, than some of the jeweled and elab- 
orately painted ladies who spent all their energies to 
beautify themselves and keep their husbands to them- 
selves, while Hedie turned the head of every man she 
met without taking any trouble or pains. Her large 
hands with their long fingers played with fortunes and 
let them slip through their tapering ends with utmost un- 
concern. 

After a great deal of begging and urging, which she 
took as the natural thing, she sang the famous desert 
song, "Although I am a great chief of the desert, I am 
thy humblest slave." 

The power and force of art are beyond environment. 

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HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

In that cheap European imitation costume, in that 
cheap and badly made European dress, she managed to 
render the song with the soul, the passion of a real Arab. 
She had a low contralto, pure and deep and powerful, 
which got the guttural catch of the Arab's emotional 
tones as she pronounced the word "zalim" (cruel), with 
which epithet the great chief addressed his beloved. 

When her song was over I realized with the rest that 
we had given ourselves to the beauty she expressed in 
her voice, and we breathed freely as one does after the 
strain of some strong emotion. 

Externally she was not a beautiful person, but she 
had an unaccountable passionate significance. She 
breathed it, she gave it out about her to such a degree 
that one did not wonder at the weakness and follv of 
men. 

The next morning we were on our way to the desert. 

Djemal Pasha's mother-in-law also came with us. 
She was as happy as she could be and promised to stay 
quietly in Beer-Sheba when we moved about. We were 
to go on to Jerusalem after visiting the desert. 

There was nothing particular about the Arab towns 
we touched during the first part of our journey. They 
were bare, hot, and dusty with a yellow sand waste as a 
background to them all. Women and men walked in 
the stations, and the scene at Horns repeated itself with 
more or less noise and excitement. In Toul-Kerem 
people brought immense watermelons cut in two; they 
were bright red and deliciously juicy. 

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MEMOIRS OF HAEIDE EDIB 

The evening set in, and we arrived at Vadi-Sarar, 
where I witnessed a curious scene from the window of 
the train. Another military train was being loaded at 
the station. Every usual human activity plus the tre- 
mendous bustle caused by military exigencies was 
going forward on that single line, so that the jostling 
and cramming were appalling. Most of the cars were 
open ones, and the soldiers were carried on these. As 
the engines used wood, the smoke, which seemed to be 
composed of myriads of fireflies, spread into the dark 
air. It was beautiful, but those who sat on the top of 
the piled wood had to be careful of the sparks. The 
Arab soldiers, who hated the war and the hardship any- 
way, made a great fuss, all talking and complaining. A 
tall Turkish sergeant, erect and hard as an iron bar, 
stood by the train and tried to squeeze in as many as he 
could. I could see that his patience was tried to the 
utmost and his Turkish stoicism exasperated at the 
Arabs, for the Turkish soldiers all marched through the 
wilds of Anatolia on foot for days and months without 
a murmur. 

When the sergeant thought he had loaded enough and 
passed to the next car, a queer and weird wail began, 
accompanied by the dropping over the edge of the 
wagon of all the human load, one by one, like ripe fruit 
falling from a shaken tree. Then the sergeant grew 
angry, and raising his whip he struck a few. In the 
metallic, short, and clear command of the sergeant I 
felt at last the roused anger of the mild and kindly Turk, 
which is something to be avoided by those who rouse it. 

410 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

I jumped down and went near the sergeant. I could 
hardly see his face, but I touched his sleeve. 

"Countryman," I said, "they are as weak as women. 
Don't strike them." 

I shall never forget the sudden drop of his powerful 
arm. He turned to me instantly. He must have been 
homesick for his mother-tongue, for he broke into a con- 
fidential tone at once. 

"I start with two hundred, and by the time they reach 
the next station they become less than forty. They 
have no endurance, and they give one no end of trouble. 
I do not like it. They are always after their women; 
they would rather be shot as deserters than fight ; and I 
would rather go to the firing-line than transport 
Arabs." 

"How many years since thou hast been home?" 

"Six." 

He suddenly began his work again, his voice sharp 
and his commands metallic; but he did not use the whip. 
As I moved back to our train, he cried without stopping 
his work: "Allah sclamet versoun liemslxirel" which 
means, "May Allah give you peace, sister!" 

Our train started. In that mellowed darkness, illu- 
minated by the sparks of the smoke and the station, the 
Arabs and the Turkish sergeant melted away. 

We were to pass at 2 a. m. through Galilee, and I 
wanted to see the lake ; so I asked Lieutenant Arif , who 
was the military escort sent by Colonel Fuad Bey, to 
call me when we arrived. 

I woke with a strange noise of falling water and lay 

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MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

awake for a moment. Then suddenly some one tapped 
at the window of our compartment. It was Arif Bey, 
and we hurried with Nakie Hanum, putting on long 
coats. It was a strange still night ; the place smelled of 
jasmine. We walked through a narrow lane and then 
through a passage leading to the lake. The whole place 
was covered with yellow jasmine, which gleamed in the 
moonlight, and the stillness was such that it disturbed 
and stirred one more than any imaginable sound could 
have done. At the end of the passage the lake leaped 
into one's eyes like a study in black and white. It had 
a brilliant white sheen, cast by the moon, and on the 
shores the sail-boats seemed like huge black shadows, 
falling sharply into the mirror-like transparence of the 
lake. 

It must have been just like that when Christ so often 
crossed it. He must have sat on the shore and talked to 
the fishermen, perhaps on the selfsame old stones under 
the boards that were meant for a landing. We hurried 
back, all three silent and stirred by the beauty, the 
sweetness of the jasmine, and the historical significance 
of the place. 

"We have now reached the desert," said Arif Bey the 
next evening. I was watching and trying to see the 
desert and expecting a new emotion. But the first con- 
tact had no meaning for me. There was a black waste 
on one side and Beer-Sheba on the other, lighted bril- 
liantly with electricity. Arif Bey jumped down and 
fell into that sudden-turning-into-stone sort of military 
attitude, which means the saluting of a superior officer. 

412 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

"Colonel Behdjet, the commander of Sinai," he in- 
troduced himself, as he helped us down. The title and 
the position sounded grand, but he was as mild and as 
human as a philosopher in the middle ages. 

It was almost uncanny to go through the streets of 
Beer-Sheba, so well lighted, and all the roads arranged 
on a plan, with new white houses and the mass of mili- 
tary buildings. Besides the martial figures that moved 
about, I caught sight of single Bedouins crossing the 
street, with that strange swing of their slim bodies, lead- 
ing a string of camels, turning a corner. 

There was a square with a green garden and a foun- 
tain in the middle of the town, and opposite the fountain 
there was a large white building kept for the guests, 
which was prepared for us also. 

The house was simply but tastefully arranged with 
green ferns in pots and flags, and Behdjet Bey took his 
meals with us. All the officials in Beer-Sheba, espe- 
cially the doctors, seemed pleased to see people from the 
outside world, and they tried to entertain us. 

The very next day Behdjet Bey started us on our 
sight-seeing according to the plan he had worked out. 
It was a well ordered little town, with hordes of Arabs 
and camels and very efficiently managed hospitals. 
There were Catholic Arab sisters nursing, dry small 
women in black veils and with very smooth movements. 
Among the black shadows of these religious women a 
sister in white attracted my attention. She had a fa- 
vored position ; the men seemed to have an affectionate 
dependence on her; while the doctors treated her with 

413 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

tender respect. Her round face and clear gray eyes 
had not lost their freshness amid all the suffering of the 
place, and she talked Turkish with a familiar accent. 
She was known as Sister Anna, and she was a Protes- 
tant Armenian. She was the only Armenian who had 
sensed the double tragedy of the Armeno- Turkish mas- 
sacres and simply brought her lovely heart to the service 
of the sick. That suffering has no race, sex, and class, 
and that the appeasing of it is the only human act which 
brings a lasting satisfaction, she seemed to have learned 
by experience. 

After the hospitals we went to the German aeroplane 
station. A German air officer called Erlinger showed 
us round. I had heard about his wonderful feats in the 
air, and also of his turning somersaults in the air when- 
ever any ordinary Turkish land officer, curious for the 
experience of an aeroplane ride, came his way. There 
was a great deal of humor in his face which justified his 
reputation, and I felt tempted all of a sudden to go for 
an air drive. So I said in a conversational tone, "I 
wonder how it feels to be in the air." Hardly were the 
words out of my mouth before Erlinger began to shout 
commands in German, and German soldiers began to 
pull an aeroplane out. Erlinger stuck a cap on my 
head and put a fur jacket on me, which he seemed to 
have got hold of in a mysterious way. 

To-day the anxiety and the nervousness of the old 
lady and Nakie Hanum seem out of place. But then 
there was a feeling of distrust about aeroplanes. For- 
tunately we were flying over the desert in no time. The 

414 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

first sensation was of delight caused by that miraculous 
sense of speed, but I soon became absorbed and thrilled 
by the yellow vastness of the desert and its wonderfully 
smooth mounds, flying at a terrible pace under us in an 
oblique vision. 

When the aeroplane, which had been flying smoothly 
for a time, began to shake and jump, I felt that the time 
for fear had come and wondered how one held on to an 
aeroplane when it turned upside down. 

Just then Erlinger looked back at me with a quizzical 
expression. I believe that he wanted to see the effect of 
it all on my face. In spite of my internal anxiety, his 
wicked joy at the idea of frightening the Turks, even 
when they are meek-looking little women, amused me. 
I smiled understandingly, and that very instant the 
aeroplane steadied itself. I think that any sign of fear 
would have led him to the wickedest feats; what was 
humor and amusement in me he took for courage, and 
that saved me. As I came down I saw the old lady sit- 
ting, with her hands up shutting her ears, and her eyes 
tightly closed, and she was calling to Xakie Hanum, "Is 
she alive ?" 

To which Nakie Hanum answered, "Very much so." 

The old lady seemed very nervous, reproaching me 
with heartlessness, declaring that the fear she felt was 
going to kill her very soon. 

There are strange coincidences in life, and when 
she began to grow feverish and developed pneumonia, 
I came to feel repentant, though I knew well enough 
that no amount of fear could have caused it. She could 

415 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

not be removed for ten days at the very earliest, and the 
fighting was causing some anxiety to the commander of 
Sinai. The English aeroplanes had begun to visit Beer- 
Sheba, and the outlook was not pleasant with a sick old 
lady in bed. 

Sister Anna came to nurse for a few hours in the 
night, but she would not come in the daytime. "I can- 
not give up my poor soldiers. She is a great lady and 
can have every possible care." This was so fine that 
the old lady, who was pining to have her every minute, 
almost cried over the beauty of the girl's sentiment. 

"It is her show of will which pleases me more than the 
moral side of it," she said, laughing. "I always did 
what I wanted. I will tell you an incident which you 
will never forget. Once I had a toothache, and my hus- 
band took me to a dentist, but I was determined not 
to have my tooth extracted. My husband always 
spoiled me shamefully, and he actually sat and had his 
own tooth extracted — to encourage me, you know. 'I 
will let my tooth be taken out if the dentist also pulls 
his own tooth out,' I said. The dentist was furious at 
first, but finally he did extract his own tooth. Whether 
he wanted to get me off his hands at all costs, or whether 
my husband paid him very high, I cannot tell, but I took 
a displeased air and said that I would never allow such 
a silly dentist to touch my tooth, and I walked out." 

Every evening we sat out with Nakie Hanum in the 
garden. The desert sky is so low and the stars so near 
that you feel it would be possible for any tall person to 

416 




PS 

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PS 
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CO 
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W 

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HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

stand up and gather them. The moon rose late, but the 
luster of those near stars, ever so much larger and 
brighter than the stars I had so far known, illumined the 
desert with a soft and clear light. The camels and the 
men stood out in full outline, colorless but mysteriously 
and softly enveloped in light. 

Opposite the garden there was a wooden mosque, 
where a boyish voice called out for prayers. In no part 
of the world is the muezzin call so perfect and harmoni- 
ous as in the mosques of Constantinople. So he must be 
from Constantinople, I said to myself. 

After the call to prayers, the Armenian cook, Artin, 
a dark Constantinople lad, stood by the door and sang 
"Aida" in a grave barytone. Somehow I had a feeling 
that both the young Turkish muezzin and the Armenian 
cook were suffering from a great longing for Con- 
stantinople. 

At the fifth day, when we felt that the old ladv was 
out of danger, Behdjet Bey took us for our longest drive 
in the desert. It was already dawn; the morning light 
had no warm hues yet; a most delicate lilac and an im- 
perceptible greenish white enveloped the town; the 
camel-strings and the drivers passed on, with those light 
steps that made no noise on the sand, and the graceful 
swing that stays ever in one's mind's eye. We rode 
into the desert feeling how unfamiliar an auto sounds 
and how out of place a railway line looks in a desert. In 
ten minutes we were in absolute wilderness. 

It is no use to describe the sense of one's nothingness 
and almost religious ecstasy that the dawn in the wilder- 

417 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

ness inspires. It was not connected with any particular 
religion to me, and I had no historical feeling. The 
perfect blue of the inverted canopy over the unutterable 
gorgeous red blaze on the horizon which warmed the 
tops of the vast golden sand-mounds ; the unlimited span 
of the desert which caught the blaze and reflected it in 
a ruby veil; the loneliness and the eternal silence of it 
all! No wonder the Deity of the white man was dis- 
covered in this place of miraculous beauty. 

Behdjet Bey, who was collecting historical data, told 
me that the trail we followed was crossed by Moses and 
Selim the Grim. But this also gave me no historical 
sensation. I was utterly disconnected with the past and 
the future; I was as insignificant and as nameless as 
one single grain of sand among the myriads. 

Of course we stopped at every ordinary and orderly 
little station, each having a well arranged guest-house, 
a factory for small repairs, a blacksmith, and some water 
arrangements, as well as some little growth of green. 
But I was subdued and awed and did not care for civi- 
lization or civilized tools. I was impatient to plunge 
more and more into the desert. It became hotter, the 
colors madder and more flame-like, and the mountains 
more frequent. At last the colors all resolved them- 
selves into a glistening and burning gold, and the sky 
turned into blue fire, burning into one's very brain. I 
saw no sign of life for so many hours that I could very 
well imagine the desert to have been created that very 
day. 

418 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

On the sides of the trail Behdjet Bey pointed to mod- 
est mounds which were the graves of the unknown sol- 
diers who had died on their way to the canal. The 
humble trace must be lost by now. Let it be lost. The 
Turk never had a proper grave or a proper memorial 
for his brave deeds. He knows beforehand when he 
marches on that what he suffers, however sublime, what 
he gains, however grand, belongs to sultans and pasha 
commanders. He has no Perpetual Flame or Arch of 
Triumph to make him remembered. But the perpetual 
flame and the arch of triumph are within him, and it is 
he who constitutes the continuity, the vitality, and the 
higher meaning of his race. His sultans and his pashas 
will be but paltry effigies and his race will lose its higher 
meaning if that sacred fire ever leaves his soul ! 

We tried hard to reach Haffir station at noon. Dr. 
Hassan Ferid's hospital of the Red Crescent was there. 
The white tents blazed in the sun on a mildly raised 
sand plateau. Dr. Hassan Ferid had gone with Ham- 
dullah Soubhi to Jerusalem, where he would wait for 
our arrival. The order and the cleanliness was ex- 
cellent in spite of the enormous difficulties of the place. 
We took some light lunch and rested for more than an 
hour. The heat was at its highest; one's feet could 
hardly touch the burning sands without being scorched ; 
and one's breath burned one like fire. 

When we started in the afternoon, I can hardly un- 
derstand how we bore the heat, till evening came with 
another series of lights and beauty and spread all over 

419 



MEMOIES OF HALIDE EDIB 

the desert. We reached Kusseime at sunset. It was a 
pleasant place with a green garden and clear water from 
which a sparkling fountain rose. 

The sheik, a sad-looking man with an enormous sword 
hung over his burnoose, received us, his little boy cling- 
ing to his arm. Behdjet Bey's grave face lighted with 
something which might have been a smile, and he whis- 
pered to me: "He means no mischief with that enor- 
mous sword. It is Djemal Pasha's gift, which he 
carries proudly. It is too heavy. I am sorry for the 
poor fellow." I wonder what kind of a new toy the 
present rulers have supplied to the children of the 
desert. 

The little boy of the sheik had his hair shaved, and a 
tuft of long hair was left on the top of his head, which 
looked queer. A horde of delightfully brown children 
in short blue chemises, under which their lithe brown 
bodies were entirely naked, each with the same shaved 
head and the tuft of long hair on the top, played before 
the garden. Their movements were like lightning, and 
their gestures and talk like flames. The sheik's son 
stood apart and looked at them wistfully, from the sepa- 
rating human borders which one calls class. 

The hospital contained the newly arrived and gravely 
wounded soldiers brought that very day from El-Arish. 
One heard their low moan, and their eves held the far 
and strange vision of the dying. 

We walked out silently and sat by the water, watching 
the little dark heads popping up and down in spasmodic 
dancing movements. The Armenians were singing 

420 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

Turkish songs in one corner of the garden, and the water 
joined in with its cool melody, while the evening colors 
faded in the desert. Then we plunged once more far- 
ther and farther into the desert. 

As we turned homeward the comfort of the night with 
its cold breath set in. The sky grew brighter, and the 
stars once more lowered themselves. The distant out- 
lines of the yellow mounds and the endless stretches set- 
tled down into the night, while the silence was broken 
by the long and distant sobbing and howling of the 
jackals. It was a strange and persistent sound. At 
times we saw the eyes of the jackals, which approached 
like golden flash-lights. I could hardly believe in its 
reality when Beer-Sheba with its lights magically lit 
our way. I felt that the motion of the car was only a 
sham and that it would lead us no more to any inhabited 
land. 

Three days later the old lady could be taken back to 
Damascus, and we started with Nakie Hanum for Jeru- 
salem in the car of the chief engineer of the desert roads, 
accompanied by Lieutenant Arif Bey. 

Once more I fell under the spell of the wilderness, 
but this time more with its historical sense. The Jeru- 
salem road passed through these low half-rocky hills, 
all covered with hundreds of old hermit cells, the open- 
ings mostly banked up with sand. Every opening drew 
me and made me wonder at the sort of life the hermit in 
the past had lived there. What was he thinking of, 
buried in that desolation, parched by day under the sun, 

421 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and watched by night by the freezing silver stars of the 
low heavens ? 

The first moment that the machine went wrong and 
had to be attended to, I longed to go out and climb up 
to those dark cave-mouths and peep into their mystery. 
We were in a hurry to reach Jerusalem before night. 
But I did get to one which was low enough, in a moment 
of machine repairs, and looked in. I had to bow my 
head down and walk a few steps. All at once I per- 
ceived something white and hard lying in the semi- 
darkness of the cave. I stepped out again and took 
matches from Arif Bey, who stood by the mouth of the 
cave. 

It was a young Arab lying still, a white chemise cover- 
ing his body, his face in the dark and his bare feet swol- 
len and purplish. Struck by the sight and the strange 
smell I left the cave swiftly, and before Arif Bey went 
in to see, I knew that he must have been dead for some 
time. The grim reality of the body robbed me of my 
historical musings instantly. I could now only notice 
the tremendous number of camel corpses, and infer from 
them that a far greater human effort had been put forth 
for the canal invasion than we in reality knew. 

It was evening when we entered Jerusalem. The sky 
of Jerusalem has a violet tinge, and the stars are more 
distinctly single, each hung by an invisible silver chain 
on which they seem to tremble and flash. 

We were to stay in Augusta Victoria House, some- 
thing between a religious house and a hotel. It was 
most beautiful, and wonderfully kept by the noble Ger- 

422 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

man matron called Sister Matilda. The building was 
surrounded by thick pine-groves and looked out to the 
distant hills of Jerusalem. Its garden and its corridors 
were covered with rich clusters of red and white flowers. 

It had been the headquarters of the Turkish army for 
some time, but the headquarters had moved on to Da- 
mascus when we arrived. 

Sister Matilda came forward to receive us in the long 
glass corridor. When I saw that tall and austere figure 
with the stately bearing of the fine face I did not wonder 
any more at the perfect taste, cleanliness, and order of 
the establishment. 

She had genuine affection for the Turkish soldiers, 
and Djemal Pasha had more than admiration for her; 
it was veneration. She told me that the staff of the 
Turkish headquarters never smoked in that building, 
and the orderlies alwavs took off their shoes when they 
walked on her polished floors. Some of the younger 
members had told me that they rather suffocated in her 
holy atmosphere, being deprived even of smoke, but each 
and all spoke with sincere respect for her. Djemal 
Pasha said to me: 

"No man has inspired me with the respect with which 
she inspired me. I should love to appoint her as gov- 
ernor of one of the largest provinces here. She would 
bring order and prosperity in no time." 

She returned his admiration with interest, for she 
also told me that the order and cleanliness which the 
Djemal Pasha regime had created was beyond anything 
she remembered in Jerusalem, although she had been 

423 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

there many years. Of course order was the dominating 
characteristic of Djemal Pasha everywhere. Speaking 
of Jerusalem, he said jokingly to me, "I am glad I was 
stopped by Djemil Bey from creating too much order." 
He had invited Zuercher to study the place and had 
drawn up a plan for the general improvement of Syria. 
The result is an artistic work by Zuercher published 
after the World War. 

The mosque of Omar is one of the supreme things I 
remember best in Jerusalem. It glistened on its un- 
paralleled terrace, overlooking the medieval and Jewish 
architecture which surrounded it on a lower plane. Its 
graceful dome added something to the old town. As I 
went up the stairs of the terrace, a saying of Mohammed 
ran in my mind: "All tall men are fools except Omar; 
all short men are perfidious except Ali !" How rare in 
history is a man like Omar! I simply gloated over the 
entry of his army, and his wonderful justice and sim- 
plicity — a man of the street, a rare democrat and idealist 
who had given to the inhabitants such free and happy 
moments as they had seldom known. 

We stood and looked at the opposite hill, which had 
a steep dark valley at its foot ; and on the top of the hill 
there was a small square Jewish tomb covered with 
stones. Not only the tomb but also the valley and the 
hill were covered with piles of stones. 

"What is it?" I asked. 

"It is the tomb of Absalom," said Djemil Bey. "The 
Jews go on stoning it." 

Because Solomon was once angry with his son, the 

424 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

poor fellow had to be stoned in his tomb forever. I 
never liked Solomon much ; he was too wise and in a way 
too much like the wise men who are the leaders of to- 
day — beautiful maxims for others and a bad selfish life 
for himself. 

I went over the places where the life of Jesus had 
been played out — first, in Bethlehem, the church of the 
Nativity, and the stone cave where the manger was. 
In the church, the Catholic priests, in gorgeous gowns, 
chanted a service; and beautiful women of Bethlehem, 
costumed just as they were in Christ's day, knelt on the 
stones, lost in meditation, while a huge organ played on, 
making the very stones vibrate. 

There is something wonderful about the associations 
of a great man's life, especially if he has been crowned 
with martyrdom. The satisfaction of the human being 
seems never quite complete unless the man who loves 
and serves does not finish by allowing himself to be tor- 
tured and torn to pieces. Then lasting sanctuaries are 
erected, and he is made an emblem of love and eternal 
greatness. 

Opposite the manger, carved in a massive rock, was 
the cell of Jerome, where he had lived thirty-two years 
and had breathed his last. Outside and opposite the 
place was a house where Paula, a pious Italian woman, 
had watched that cell for sixteen years. It hallowed the 
place for me; a heart that keeps a human image for 
sixteen years is a haunting heart which beats in one's 
memory ! 

More even than the church of Calvary and the place 

425 



MEMOIES OF HALIDE EDIB 

where Jesus was tried, the road called Via Dolorosa 
captivated me with the sense of Passion week. Those 
old Roman arches, which covered the winding road to 
Calvary, cast wonderful shadows, and in the open places 
the lights blazed over the Jewish crowds, holding their 
markets, buying and selling, clutching, screaming and 
gesticulating ; surely the setting was the same when He 
passed on to Calvary! 

The garden of Gethsemane belonged to the Italians. 
It was a garden of chrysanthemums of lovely colors. 
The two-thousand-year-old olive-tree was there, and the 
story of the Crucifixion was represented in small wax 
images of a particularly charming Italian kind. I sat 
on a wooden bench and watched the brothers moving 
about and the flowers waving in the breeze. 

Churches with Catholic pomp of mystery and music; 
churches with Orthodox smell of incense and monoto- 
nous chants, old tombs of prophets and biblical women; 
the narrow and medieval streets; the grandiose arch- 
ways, and the Semites of all types, tongues, religions, 
sects, and classes! 

But those ancient churches and consecrated and his- 
toric spots had no peace. One felt that all these many 
creeds and peoples were trying to have them to them- 
selves, and were ready to jump at each other's throats 
at any moment. There was a hot and unwholesome at- 
mosphere, mixed with a religious passion verging on 
hysteria. The Turk alone had a calm, impartial, and 
quiet look. He divided these spots justly among them 

426 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

all, and stood calmly watching, stopping bloody quar- 
rels and preventing bloody riots in the holy places. 

The full extent of this force and tranquillity I realized 
in a church connected with the Virgin. From a huge 
and high window the light blazed on a square red carpet. 
Djemil Bey carefully walked out on the marble, not 
touching the holy carpet with his feet. From the stairs 
leading down to a subterranean region a voice that was 
not Arab, a clear and low voice, was chanting the Koran. 
We found the owner, sitting on the step, protecting his 
head from the sun, and leaning over a large Koran 
opened on his knees. He had a pleasant and serious 
face and told us that he was the guardian of the carpet 
marking off the place of one particular creed. The 
guardian had to be on the alert, and one saw that he 
was brave and experienced enough to stop any brawls 
that might arise in this connection. 

"Are they very particular?" I asked. 

"They would murder each other in an instant if they 
saw that one crossed the boundary as much as a hair- 
breadth. See that window?" pointing to the sunny big 
one. "It was black with the dirt and cobwebs of ages. 
None dared to touch it. Each asserted the right of 
cleaning it. But an attempt to do so on the part of any 
would have meant a wholesale massacre." 

"Who washed it at last?" I asked. 

He smiled as he answered. 

"Enver Pasha came two months ago. He saw the 
dirty state, and he called the heads of the creeds and 

427 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

asked them to wash it. There was an instant row as to 
who should hold the brush and who should carry the 
water. Then the pasha said, 'The Turkish soldiers as 
the guardians of the place shall wash it,' and it was 
cleaned in half an hour." 

Before we started for Constantinople, Djemal Pasha 
took us, Nakie Hanum, Hamdullah Soubhi, and myself, 
to see an orphanage in Lebanon called Aintoura, after 
the place. It had been an old Jesuit college composed 
of a series of solid stone buildings, and it had very fine 
grounds. It was run by only a few women and two 
men, although there were already about four hundred 
children. The fact that Djemal Pasha was coming with 
some visitors was known, and the place had been put 
reasonably in order, but the children looked dejected, 
miserable, and sick beyond description. They were 
Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian. Each child had a 
drama, and each had had its parents massacred by the 
parents of the other children, and now all were stricken 
with the same misery and disaster. Each child had a 
Turkish or Moslem name. 

None of us spoke during the visit, and as we left the 
place we seemed to have brushed the inner ugliness and 
horror of the World War. 

I had a conversation in the car with Djemal Pasha 
which was really illuminating. I said: "You have 
been as good to Armenians as it is possible to be in these 
hard days. Why do you allow A \rmenian children to 

428 



HOW I WENT TO SYRIA 

be called by Moslem names? It looks like turning the 
Armenians into Moslems, and history some day will re- 
venge it on the coming generation of Turks." 

"You are an idealist," he answered gravely, "and like 
all idealists lack a sense of reality. Do you believe that 
by turning a few hundred Armenian boys and girls 
Moslem I think I benefit my race ? You have seen the 
Armenian orphanages in Damascus run by Armenians. 
There is no more room in those ; there is no more money 
to open another Armenian orphanage. This is a Mos- 
lem orphanage, and only Moslem orphans are allowed. 
I send to this institution any wandering waif who passes 
into Syria from the regions where the tragedy took 
place. The Turks and the Kurds have that orphanage. 
When I hear of wandering and starving children, I send 
them to Aintoura. I have to keep them alive. I do not 
care how. I cannot bear to see them die in the streets." 

"Afterward?" I asked. 

"Do you mean after the war?" he asked. "After the 
war they will go back to their people. I hope none is 
too small to realize his race." 

"I will never have anything to do with such an or- 
phanage." 

He shook his head. "You will," he said; "if you see 
them in misery and suffering, you will go to them and 
not think for a moment about their names and religion. 
You speak as if I am doing something inhuman. I am 
taking the bread out of the mouths of the Moslem or- 
phans who would have the money spent on them if I did 

429 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

not keep such a large number of Armenian children." 
I had not decided on the right and wrong of the ques- 
tion when we started for Constantinople. It was Sep- 
tember 16, 1916. 



430 



CHAPTER XVIII 

EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

THE evkaff schools, which we had modernized 
through the work of Nakie Hanum, passed to 
the ministry of public instruction that very 
month. Hairi Effendi, the sheik-ul-Islam, who had re- 
mained in the war cabinet because of his constructive 
work in evkaff, resigned. I followed with Nakie 
Hanum. 

The two months from September to November, 1916, 
were to me the most painful during the war. I was in 
utter despair; the great calamity and hopeless misery 
which overwhelmed my country seemed to be everlast- 
ing. The war seemed endless and human suffering un- 
limited. I was unable to write a line, and if there had 
been a monastic life for women in Islam I should have 
entered it without hesitation. I was in this state of 
mind when Falih Rifki Bey came once more from Syria 
with a letter from Djemal Pasha urging me to under- 
take the organization of the schools in Syria, among 
which was the orphanage of Aintoura. The number of 
children in Aintoura had gone up to eight hundred, and 
they were in a deplorable state. 

I accepted the organization of the schools, but still 

431 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

refused Aintoura. I promised, however, to find a good 
man to become the director and said I would undertake 
its inspectorship. I found a fatherly and kind-hearted 
man who was already doing excellent work in the Red 
Crescent. He himself had children, and he seemed very 
tender and kind to helpless things. His wife, who was 
an old friend of mine and a successful teacher and or- 
ganizer, undertook to choose the staff. 

The college and the normal school for the three prov- 
inces were to be in Beirut, where I was to live and spend 
most of my time. 

In Lebanon and Damascus two primary boarding- 
schools with six grades were to be opened on a modern 
footing. The staffs for all the three institutions were 
mostly chosen from among my old pupils who had mod- 
ernized the evkaff schools in Constantinople with great 
success, and so I started with about fifty women and a 
few men for Syria, toward the end of December, 1916. 

Two days before I started I went to visit my father 
in Broussa. An incident that happened at the station 
in Galata illumined me both as to my own nature, in its 
most angelic and resigned mood, and as to the ways of 
governments in war. 

A strict examination for gold was made of every pas- 
senger during the war. The Turkish population some- 
how never feels real confidence in paper money, and 
there was enough secret dealing in gold to justify the 
application of strict measures. There were a great 

432 




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EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

many Anatolian women who traveled over the country 
for trading purposes, and they managed to smuggle all 
sorts of things, the discovery of which would have baffled 
any government. I saw them waiting their turn before 
the barrack where the examination was made. As I 
walked with Nakie Hanum toward the place, a rather 
dirty-faced but highly painted woman with a German 
accent came toward us and asked us to follow her. 

"I am the government examining inspector for gold 
smuggling. Come with me to this office," she said, and 
opened a door to a very big room. 

"I would rather go and be examined with the crowd," 
I answered. 

"Now no jabbering; no Turkish ways," she said, with 
a ridiculous assumption of authority. "I represent the 
government and do what I please." 

I made an instant decision to keep my temper under 
control and go through the disagreeable process with 
extreme sang-froid, so we walked in. At the end of the 
room stood a tall man with his hands in his pockets. Al- 
though he wore civilian clothes, he was the commissary 
of the station. 

I waited for a moment, expecting the man to leave 
the room, but he did not do so, though the woman was 
getting ready to examine us intimately. 

'The gentleman must leave the room before you be- 
gin," I said quietly. 

Evidently she was a woman picked from the worst and 
lowest classes, and she spoke as her class would speak. 

433 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

"He is a great man," she shouted. "It is an honor to 
be examined in his presence. You Turkish women are 
unbearable — " 

'You leave out the Turkish women," I said. 

The man then spoke in a jeering tone. "She is a 
noble Austrian, and I am in command. Be careful 
about the way you talk to her." 

"If you were the sultan, and she an Austrian royal 
princess, I would not be examined till you leave the 



room." 



I am, generally speaking, a mild little person and 
keep my temper under control, but I was now struggling 
with something within me as I had never struggled be- 
fore. I last remember the woman laying hands on me 
and trying forcibly to undress me. . . . Then a com- 
plete gap. I have never understood this gap, but I am 
afraid of it as showing incalculable possibilities within 
me. 

The next thing I knew three policemen were entering 
the room. The man and the woman were not in the 
room any longer, while Nakie Hanum was smiling 
queerly. 

"Will you please walk to the police station in this 
building?" said one, while I thought that all the three 
looked at me with open sympathy. 

"What for?" I asked. 

"For slapping a woman." 

I looked at Nakie Hanum with surprise, but she 
nodded her head confirmingly. 

There was a long table with five policemen sitting in 

434 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYEIA 

a row, while the tall man, termed the great man by the 
woman, dictated with much gesticulation. The room 
was full of large mirrors. In one of them I caught 
the image of the woman. 

"She has left her finger-marks on my cheek," she 
shrieked in a sort of refrain. 

I caught my own image also in one of the mirrors, and 
it frightened me with its ferocity. I was crimson to 
the whites of my eyes, and I seemed to look like an angry 
tiger. 

Part of the report he dictated was in this sense: 

"As she seemed to belong to a high class, we took her 
to the room of the commissary, and with due respect the 
woman inspector tried to make the usual examination 
for gold. She immediately made seditious and rebel- 
lious utterances against the government, used most abu- 
sive language, and finally beat the inspector, who is a 
noble Austrian." 

I remember him walking up and down, pleased with 
his eloquence. 

"Sign," he said at last. 

"I will not," I said. 

"I will arrest you if you don't." 

"You may. I can only sign something which is true, 
and if you allow me to dictate my own statement I will 
sign. 

The policeman sitting in the middle had a long fair 
face with very kindly eyes. He said something in low 
whispers to the "great man" which made him consent 
with some reluctance. 

435 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

I told the story shortly and simply, and finally added 
that if those they thought entitled to special treatment 
were exposed to this sort of thing it horrified me to think 
of the treatment which the common people must receive. 
This I signed. 

Writers always enjoy a certain consideration, and the 
idea of this story possibly appearing at some future date 
in the Turkish newspapers was probably not a welcome 
prospect to the bully, but to his honor he did not flinch. 
On the contrary he added a new threat: "I shall say 
that you have attacked me with an umbrella, and if this 
lady" — pointing at Nakie Hanum — "had not been pres- 
ent you would have beaten me." I had no umbrella, and 
if we two, Nakie Hanum and myself, were put together, 
lengthwise and crosswise, we should still not have been 
as large as his powerful frame. 

I went home that evening realizing sadly and fully 
the meaning of "seditious and rebellious utterances," 
which I so often saw given as reasons for delivering over 
people to courts martial. 

The next morning Ahmed Bey, the chief of the police, 
apologized through the telephone, and thanked me for 
enlightening them about the undesirable process used in 
gold examination without the knowledge of the govern- 
ment. As I went to Broussa the next day I found both 
the process and the woman inspector changed. 

We reached Beirut late one evening in the pouring 
rain. The director of Aintoura took the secretaries and 
the accountants (who were men) to the hotel, and I with 

436 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

my fifty women teachers found places prepared in the 
girls' primary school, which, as I have already said, was 
run by my sister. 

The governors of Beirut, Damascus, and Lebanon set 
to work to help, as did the army headquarters. For us 
it meant nearly sixteen hours of work each day, but 
before the end of January the schools opened, the pupils 
arrived, and the work began in all of them. 

The normal school and college, which was to be in 
common for the three provinces, began in Der-Nassira 
(Ladies of Nazareth). The building was long and 
three-sided, perched on a high terrace which overlooked 
the orange and banana groves, the tall date-palms of 
the lower terraces, and the magnificent blue expanse of 
the Mediterranean. 

The buildings used to contain a religious and rather 
fashionable school for Syrian girls, which was run by 
sisters. The sisters were in the building when we ar- 
rived. I drove up to the school the very next morning 
as the rooms were being whitewashed, cleaned, and pre- 
pared. The mother superior received me and went over 
the place with me. 

Djemal Pasha had a convent prepared for them in 
Jerusalem, and she, Sister Freige, the superior, and the 
thirty sisters under her were to leave soon. But as we 
sat with her in the simple sitting-room and a sister 
offered me coffee, I tried hard to think of some arrange- 
ment by which it would be possible to keep them with 
me. I knew that Djemal Pasha was always kind about 
finding comfortable quarters for the large number of 

437 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

homeless religious women in Syria, and for Sister 
Freige and her people he would be especially so. Still 
they fitted in so well with the whole surroundings that 
I wanted to make some practical arrangement which 
would benefit us both. Sister Freige herself was a dis- 
tinguished personality, with a remarkable presence and 
face. Her long, dark, oval, clear-brown eyes and the 
firm mouth with its lines of pity and understanding fas- 
cinated me. 

In half an hour we came to a complete understand- 
ing. She was to stay on with her staff and undertake 
the entire housekeeping. The left wing, which had an 
odd arrangement and was unfit for school accommoda- 
tions, was to belong to them. I remember the affection 
and the sincerity of her voice as she said, "We will pray 
for your soul, my child." And they did remember me 
in their daily prayers in that mysterious church of theirs. 

Among the feverish activity of the school days I 
could rest only at tea-time, when Sister Freige used 
generally to drop in and give me her views about educa- 
tion and school management. I am afraid that I took 
none of her advice, but I loved to hear her talk. I think 
of her now saying, "Weekly baths lead to vanity; free- 
dom breeds saucy girls ; friendship between two girls is 
wrong." 

The first month I had trouble concerning the sisters 
which might have become grave. I was told by a faith- 
ful man who was given us as a guard that the sisters 
were signaling and acting as spies for the French. He 

438 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

told me that there was a wireless apparatus on the roof. 
I went over the roof very carefully with him and saw 
that there was nothing at all. I knew the simple women 
in this monastery to be far removed from all political 
activity. Sister Freige was perhaps personally pro- 
French, but she had enough sense of honor to refrain 
from actually doing anything which might be called 
treachery. On the other hand, I loved my country too 
much to allow any sentiment to cause me to protect the 
sisters if I found any act of treason going on. But in 
any case I did not want to act on impulse. One day the 
man came to me and told me that every night after mid- 
night a man entered the sisters' part of the building and 
left the place before morning. The man was dressed in 
priest's clothes. On inquiry I found out who the man 
was. He was a Catholic priest who had to conduct the 
prayers, as in their ritual women could not conduct 
them. Then I told Sister Freige frankly that I could 
not allow it and that they must pray alone. I do not 
know whether she understood that I was acting in their 
own interest, but she was sad. Inquiries which were 
conducted without her knowledge confirmed in every 
case her statements about little matters which were 
brought to me, and for which I had to be responsible to 
my government. However, after some six months both 
the government and myself felt at peace about them, 
and Sister Freige never knew my troubles in the matter. 

The entrance examinations were exciting. For 
twenty vacant places in the higher classes, we had 175 

439 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

applications. It was mostly from Lebanon and Beirut 
that the applicants filled the school. Fortunately the 
Damascus students were chosen by our institution in 
Damascus. Lebanon mostly sent Christian girls, 
Beirut sent both Moslems and Christians, while the 
Damascus students were all Moslems. As Jessir 
Effendi, the Arab inspector of the public instruction, 
translated the examination questions into Arabic, he 
smiled. "If you were an Arab you would be accused 
of Arab nationalism and given to the court in Alie." 
As a true Nationalist myself I thought that every one 
ought to know his own country's language and culture. 
As a fact the girls, who were mostly from French 
schools, knew nothing about the country they lived in 
and despised their own language as inferior to French. 
The new schools which we had opened took the teaching 
of Arabic very seriously. 

We had almost completed the dormitories and the 
class-rooms when Djemal Pasha came to the school with 
Azmi Bey, the governor. They went all over the school 
and finally asked to see the church. It was an enor- 
mous place, with no end of statues and images and rather 
badly lit. Djemal Pasha thought that there ought to 
be no church in a secular school and that the place ought 
to be turned into a dormitory or a public hall. I had the 
dormitories ready, and as for the public hall there was 
a white-walled rectangular chapel with a beautiful light 
which suited my purpose better. The church door was 
closed to the main building, but the sisters entered it 

440 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

from a side door. In this case I insisted that they ought 
to be allowed to have their church. As we went on dis- 
cussing the matter I caught sight of an old sister kneel- 
ing behind a chair and watching us with furtive eyes. I 
was not surprised, for it was in their system to know 
all. 

I was rather taken back by a scene that day which 
made me wonder a great deal. A short fat man who 
was doing the furnishing of the school came to Djemal 
Pasha and said that there were crosses on the graves of 
the sisters in the lower garden, and asked if the pasha 
desired them to be removed. I was glad to hear Djemal 
Pasha say furiously: "What do you take me for? 
Should I ever allow graves to be touched?" 

We soon opened classes for sewing and for languages, 
mainly French and Turkish. The waiting-rooms were 
filled with Arabic women, anxious to attend these 
classes. All had pleasant, wide-awake faces and proved 
to be very apt pupils. 

It was at this period that a man called Dumani came 
to see me. lie brought samples of washable home-made 
stuff which seemed excellent for use as uniforms for the 
students. He had a weaving factory where he made use 
of waste silks in Syria. He offered it very cheap, but 
his condition was that half of the money must be paid 
in wheat. Azmi Bey took him under his protection, and 
he furnished all our schools with that wonderful stuff 
from his factory. When I learned from Sister Freige 
his history I was more than glad to have introduced him 

441 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

to Azmi Bey. His father, the richest man in Syria, had 
gambled away all his fortune and died, leaving an 
enormous amount of debt. Dumani had sold all he 
could from their property, paid the debtors, and started 
to work like a simple working-man. He and his brave 
mother, a noble woman in every way, are among those 
for whom I have a deep respect. 

In the meantime I was not satisfied with the state of 
things in Aintoura. I had installed the director and his 
staff in the very first week of January. The place was 
in a state of incredible filth and misery. Out of the 
eight hundred children over five hundred were sick. 
There was no order whatever, and the personnel con- 
sisted entirely of a few good but incapable women, a few 
men, and half a dozen soldiers who were supposed to do 
some work. The women and the men were overjoyed to 
see the arrival of a larger staff. Each child, each bed, 
and each piece of furniture was covered with vermin, and 
most of the children had mouth disease. The children 
themselves looked like little wild beasts and acted as 
such. There seemed to be no human decency or cleanli- 
ness left among them. The smell, the dirt, the din, and 
the sickly sight quite overcame the new staff. They had 
not imagined such a state possible. Loutfi Bey asked 
for boilers at once and set to boil every possible boilable 
thing and to disinfect the furniture and the place 
thoroughly, for typhus was one of the worst epidemics 
of Syria. A new doctor also called Loutfi arrived from 
the front and really worked wonders in establishing a 

442 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

decent hospital and better hygienic conditions. The 
vermin were destroyed, and the worst of the dirt and 
filth removed. But in spite of this there seemed to me 
on my weekly visits to be little or no progress. 

The director, Loutfi Bey, was becoming more and 
more depressed. The complete degradation of the 
children frightened him. There were a few big healthy- 
looking children who seemed to dominate the whole 
place. Loutfi Bey told me that they took the bread of 
the smaller children and sold it in the village, gambled 
in all sorts of ways, and did other things which could 
not be told. I talked with those children, and I talked 
with the teachers, stayed and observed for a little time, 
and finally decided to come up to the institution myself 
and set to work. Der-Nassira was well started in all 
its branches and was in reliable hands, so that I could 
absent myself from it for some time. 

As Loutfi Bey was too much depressed to go on with 
the work, he and a few of his staff decided to leave. Dr. 
Loutfi accepted the direction of the school — *an ap- 
pointment which proved a blessing to the establishment. 
I wired to headquarters in Damascus, gave notice of the 
change, and settled down to work. 

I began my work by going into the dining-room to 
see the terrible ordeal of feeding the children, which had 
so appalled the director and the staff. 

The dining-room consisted of three very long and 

i Both the first director, who stayed only for a short time, and the Dr. 
Loutfi who stayed and worked wonders had the same name. 

443 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

very large halls opening into each other. Only four 
hundred and fifty children were on their feet and came 
to meals. Even the greater part of these looked as if 
they would be much better in a sanatorium. Two sol- 
diers stood by the door with two large sacks full of bread 
and distributed it to the children as they passed in. 
Makboule Hanum, the matron, with a few other teachers 
were trying to pour out the soup. 

Before all the children had got into the hall, a tre- 
mendous uproar and fighting began. It was a scene for 
students of anthropology to see, for it illustrated the 
terrific struggle for existence among the lowest kinds of 
animals. The stronger boys were snatching the bread 
from the weaker ones, and the weaker ones were strug- 
gling to keep from giving up their bread. It was a wild 
fight, with all the children wrestling and tearing each 
other, crying and screaming. The accountant of the 
school, a sturdy man, was trying to establish order with 
a stick but in vain. Some children were still on the floor, 
and the matron was wounded, blood running down her 
hands and neck. It seemed this was the worst they 
could do, and I was glad to see the limit, although it 
filled one with unutterable sadness to see the quick de- 
terioration of human nature in misery. 

The old director was to be our guest till the end of the 
week, and I remember his pardonable satisfaction as he 
saw me enter. "I am glad you saw with your own eyes 
the impossibility of the task," he said. 

"They will be eating their dinner in peace in one 
week," I said. I believe the order and the quiet of the 

444 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

teachers' dining-room hurt me at that moment. That 
evening I went all over the depots and noted the amount 
of raw material in the form of piles of yarn, cotton, 
leather, and wool. There was also a considerable 
amount of strong stuff which could be turned into bed- 
ding. Loutfi Bey had got nearly three hundred suits 
and some hundred shoes ready; his idea was to dress and 
organize when all the material should be ready. My 
plan was to begin at once and get the boys to weave, to 
carpenter, to make shoes, in short throw this enormous 
mass of grown-up children into work and make them to 
a certain degree self-sufficient. 

The first night, after working till twelve in my 
office, which was in the first floor, I quietly w r andered 
into the school. The corridors were full of bigger 
children laughing and talking with the Arab soldiers 
who were supposed to be keeping guard. The dormi- 
tories were in a wretched state, little ones and big ones 
all huddled together. I went back to my room at two 
and made additional notes on what I was going to do. 

One of the women from Constantinople who decided 
to stay on was a good dressmaker. I called from the 
village several women and with the bigger girls began 
to prepare the dresses and the bedding of the smaller 
ones. I had asked headquarters for a good carpenter, 
shoemaker, and a director to organize a brass band, and 
procured two very good weavers and a few simple looms 
to start the weaving of the yarn into stuff for children. 
The masters arrived in three days, chose the necessary 

445 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

big boys, and set to work feverishly. I owe the quick- 
ness of the establishment of order to those bigger boys 
to a very great extent, the very ones who seemed so im- 
possible and degenerate at the beginning. I had very 
serious talks with them, and through personal contact I 
chose also those I wanted for other purposes than weav- 
ing and carpentering. 

At the end of the week the smaller ones had their 
dormitory ready with their new bedding; their dresses 
and a part of their shoes were ready. Each ten small 
children (boys and girls below seven) had an ab la, that 
is, an elder sister from among the bigger girls, who was 
to mother them, and to help them to dress and wash and 
go to their classes. One teacher had to sleep in the 
little room which opened into the dormitory. The first 
day when each ten marched into the bath-house with 
their abla was a memorable day. When the first ten had 
had their baths and were dressed in clothes which it was 
a pleasure to look at, they sat on a bench in the hall of 
the bath-house, and leaning against each other, they 
slept with such a happy expression as I had thought was 
impossible for them. As each ten walked out with their 
abla, dressed and combed and clean, the entire school, 
which had come down there to watch the change, stood 
and let them pass with something like awe. That night 
I went three times to that dormitory to watch the sleep 
of the little ones. 

At the end of two months all the children were well 
dressed and well shod, all from their own weaving and 
shoe-making. Their dormitories were clean and well 

446 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

ordered. The young carpenters had made three hun- 
dred wooden beds, and were now making bed-tables. 
Besides they were getting ready a whole Montessori 
outfit for the small ones, who were having something like 
Montessori classes. The entire program of teaching, 
which was divided into five grades, was fully applied. 
The boys also had their bigger brothers, each twenty-five 
having a big boy as sergeant. This was an honor, and 
they enjoyed such consideration as co-workers with the 
teachers that each sergeant tried to keep his crowd in 
the best training. The blessedness of work, cleanliness, 
and interest in games and music kept them in much bet- 
ter humor, and the general harmony among the children 
was surprising. I remembered the first days when the 
Kurdish and Armenian children almost tore each other's 
throats daily and felt very thankful at the speedy 
change. The two Kurdish boys, who were now the best 
weavers, had come to me during the first week after I 
came to Aintoura; both had their heads in white band- 
ages, and both spoke at once: 

"We want permission to go to Damascus." 

"What for?" 

"We want to kill the Armenians." 

"Why?" 

"The Armenians killed our parents, and they beat us 
daily." 

"It was not those boys who killed your parents. Be- 
sides their parents also were killed by other people. 
Now tell me ; how did you get those cuts on your heads?" 

I sent them to the hospital and told them that they 

447 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

must postpone going to Damascus for the time. What 
I liked about them was that although they expressed so 
much hatred of the Armenian children, they did not 
tell me the names of those who wounded them. Now 
these same boys were weaving the clothes of all their 
comrades and going about as peacefully as lambs. The 
Kurdish children possessed the qualities of honesty, 
truth, and affection to a surprising degree, but unless 
always treated with firmness and justice they were very 
hard to manage. They lacked the quality of leadership 
of the Turks and the Armenians. The Turkish chil- 
dren were the easiest to manage. Besides their first- 
rate capacity for discipline and leadership, they were 
mild and kindly and formed the pacifying element of 
the school. When it came to hard work with self- 
sacrifice one could always depend on the bigger Turkish 
boys, and it is through their firmness and goodness that 
I was able to bring order into the mealtimes. Now or- 
derly children, clean and well combed, marched into the 
dining-rooms with their abla and their sergeant and sat 
down and had their meals in quiet. But sometimes in 
the middle of the meals, when the children seemed hap- 
piest, one of the little ones would suddenly begin to 
cry. It was a searching cutting cry which lasted for 
hours, no doubt caused by some association with their 
home. Sometimes in the middle of their play in the 
garden when they seemed happiest, hundreds of the 
young throats would begin to thunder a Turkish song, 
"Whither are my own brooks?" The words were An- 

448 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

atolian, and the music had infinite yearning. One felt 
that these children whatever happened would carry 
something crippled, something mutilated in them. 

The Armenian children were good musicians, and the 
brass band which was formed became the joy and the 
pride of the school. The Armenian children were 
nearer to the Turkish children than to the Kurds in cer- 
tain qualities, although nearer to Kurds in race. 

How relieved I felt when I could take off my shoes 
and put my swollen feet on a chair and work at the in- 
tricate correspondence which one had to carry on with 
headquarters and the provinces in order to keep the es- 
tablishments supplied with food and other necessities ! 

I had never hoped to hear laughter in Aintoura; the 
most I looked for was less tears and less sickness. Yet 
I saw sturdy legs and chubby faces, and I often heard 
laughter and sounds of gaiety. The comparative 
friendliness and good health was very cheering after two 
months of killing work. I never realized how killing 
it was till one morning as I looked in my glass it became 
covered with a gray cloud, and I fell on the floor, feeling 
that I was being overtaken by death before I could start 
properly all I had to do in the establishment. 

The event was in April, the weather was intensely 
hot, and I was told by the doctor that it was a case of 
cerebral anemia. I stayed in bed for a week before I 
went to inspect our school in Damascus. 



449 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

It was during this week of utter sickness that I made 
an important decision concerning my own life. I de- 
cided to marry Dr. Adnan. 

He was in Constantinople and I was in Syria, and our 
marriage took place in Broussa, to which he was able to 
go. My father was to represent me, with my letter to 
him which clearly asked him to give my consent. The 
marriage took place on April 23, 1917. When I re- 
ceived my father's telegram and that of Dr. Adnan that 
I was married, I was creeping back to life and work 
again. 

I was getting glimpses into the many-sided lives and 
peoples of Syria. There were the rich Lebanon and 
Beirut Christian nobility, an Arab imitation of the 
Parisian world; the dresses, the manners, the general 
bearing were of French importation. Strange to say, 
they still had something of their own which they tried 
hard to hide. There were the Moslem and Druse nobil- 
ity, who fiercely, proudly kept their own way and per- 
sonality. There was a great deal of profiteering and 
war wealth, all made on wheat. Among the Syrian 
masses, famine in its crudest form was fast approaching. 
In the rich streets of Beirut, men in rags and with fam- 
ished faces, solitarv waifs and stravs of both sexes, 
wandered ; lonely children, with wavering, stick-like legs, 
faces wrinkled like centenarians, eyes sunken with bit- 
ter and unconscious irony, hair thinned or entirely gone, 
moved along. There is an endless vista of road in my 

450 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

mind's eye where these nameless little figures move on 
and on. There is a vision of rich marble steps before 
stately mansions, where on a skeleton baby arm one of 
those miserable little heads rests in unutterable aban- 
don and longing to die. 

The first time I heard the cry it echoed and echoed 
through my brain and heart. It was after a concert in 
the American College, where I had gone with some 
teachers, and I had given myself up to the bliss of music. 
I was driving home through the streets of Beirut back 
to Der-Nassira when I heard it : "T)ju-an." It was a 
solitary cry piercing and insistent and cutting the air 
like a knife. I have heard that "Dju-ari" so often since. 
As time went on, the shrill passionate voices of women, 
the grave guttural tones of men, in colorless and pas- 
sionless pain, little children's weak throats which hardly 
seemed to have a breath left, all gave forth that cry in 
a single sharp note, like a sword-blade which pierces 
through the heart. 

Syrians, the intellectual ones, often spoke to me about 
a certain Vedi Sabra, their great musician. 

Vedi Sabra's name I had heard in 1908 as the com- 
poser of a national song, the words of which belonged to 
Tewfik Fikret. It began with, "We are a nation of 
brave men ... we are Ottomans," and it had been 
sung by eighty thousand men and students in the gar- 
den of Taxim, with Sabra leading the orchestra. In 
those days race hatred in Turkey had not come into 

451 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

being. In 1915 Vedi Sabra was connected with the 
conspiracy in Beirut in the French interest, and he was 
exiled to Erzeroum. 

I wrote to Djemal Pasha asking him to let us have 
Vedi Sabra as the head of our music department, which 
we meant to make into a model for Syria. Before 
long we had him at the head of our music classes. 
In a place where there is moral and physical suffering, 
after hygiene and order, music comes next as a comfort- 
ing and reviving influence. 

I promised the authorities of Syria to come back for 
one more year, and if the victory was ours, I hoped that 
those humble schools of mine, outcome of infinite labor 
and love, might be the nucleus of the constructive and 
peaceful institutions which my government meant to 
start in Syria. So I went back to Constantinople to 
spend my vacation. Dr. Adnan, who was inspecting 
the hygienic condition of the Turkish armies, came to 
Syria in June, and we traveled home together. 

In September, 1917, 1 came back to Syria to serve one 
one more year, as I had promised. The splendid effort 
and the capacity of the teaching staff in the preceding 
year had enabled us to begin the work of teaching with- 
out much difficulty in all the institutions. Aintoura had 
progressed to a surprising degree, for it had continued 
through the summer months with a lighter program. 
The number of children had gone up to twelve hundred. 
There was a neighboring convent for nuns ; Dr. Loutfi 

452 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

had rented a part of it from the nuns and had placed 
there all the girls and some teachers with their hand- 
work classes. I remembered having gone to visit the 
sisters the previous year. The order was so strict that 
only the matrons could appear, and only behind an iron 
railing. We had exchanged polite inquiries about our 
mutual health through the railings. It had appeared to 
me like a mythological play on the German stage. Now 
they also were to accept contact with the outer world, 
led by the necessity of a livelihood. 

The most useful change was the new arrangements in 
drainage, water, and the installation of electricity. The 
general cleanliness, the harmony among the inmates, 
and the progress in the various crafts were great. The 
young shoemakers now had commissions from the out- 
side world. 

Dr. Loutfi's greatest concern was the little ones. 
There were eighty small children who somehow did not 
thrive as the bigger ones did, in spite of all the care he 
lavished on them. The little Montessori classes were 
furnished with pretty little chairs and tables, brightened 
by palms, bathed in the sun, where the teachers and the 
children worked and played. The little ones had a 
different regime, plenty of sun-baths and the best of 
everything; still there was a look of depression and 
fragility about them all. Bad or good humanity has not 
yet discovered a better place than a family nook, or a 
better caretaker than a mother. No institution, no mat- 
ter how scientifically run, can replace these. If the 

453 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

family system is replaced by large governmental insti- 
tutions, the nature of the human race is bound to un- 
dergo a fundamental change, and I believe it will be for 
the worse. 

There was one child among the small ones for whom I 
was destined to take a keen, even painful interest. She 
was the youngest there. I had seen her first as one of 
the sickly tattered crowd of children during the previous 
year. She had a dirty chemise which covered only a 
part of her little body; shaking her unkempt curls, she 
was looking about her with intense curiosity in her little 
eyes, blazing with passion and will-power. She hardly 
spoke any language well, but she jabbered in a mixture 
of Turkish and Kurdish, putting in Armenian and 
Arabic words now and then. Her name was Jale, 
which means Dewdrop in literary Turkish, but the name 
had evidently been given to her by some one in the 
school; no such name could be given to an Anatolian 
child. She had been immediately taken up by Sister Is- 
met, the Turkish nurse, who gave her all her spare mo- 
ments, and the little girl had conceived a great passion 
for her in return. She was now one of the gayest and 
the healthiest children. I knew the reason: she had 
found in this way a human kinship ; if all the rest could 
each have been adopted by one special woman, Dr. Lout- 
fi's task would have been easier. 

There was greater misery the second year, but a read- 
ier spirit of helpfulness. Azmi Bey had opened an or- 
phanage with seven hundred Arab children, all gathered 

454 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

from the roads of Beirut and Lebanon. Ali Munif Bey 
had opened several soup-kitchens for the waifs and the 
street orphans. His successor, Ismail Hakki Bey, who 
because of his liberal administration was very much 
liked by the Lebanon people, was augmenting them. 
Americans also were doing a great deal. There was 
one excellent orphanage which was supported entirely 
by Mr. Dodge, the son-in-law of Dr. Bliss. The self- 
sacrificing life of the Dodge family in Beirut during the 
years I stayed there was a thing to be proud of. 

There was a growing sympathy and harmony between 
the governmental and American institutions. I am 
specially grateful to Dr. Bliss for his encouraging 
friendliness and help in finding the teachers of Ara- 
bic; it was through him that I also got an excellent 
teacher of physical culture, a young American wo- 
man, Miss Fisher, who was a valuable addition to our 
staff. 

The fashionable and rich ladies of Beirut and Leb- 
anon were also active the second year. A fine work- 
shop for embroidery and lingerie was opened and most 
ably run by them. They employed a great number of 
young orphans. 

Another admirable instance of humanity was that of 
Dr. Smith in the lunatic asylum of Asfurie. He was 
protected and helped by Djemal Pasha (he was Eng- 
lish), but some persons insisted that in the days when 
the sane were starving the mad should be allowed to die 
first. This was a cruel argument, against which poor 
Dr. Smith struggled hard, and he managed to keep his 

455 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

helpless patients alive to the end. I visited the asylum. 
It was admirably kept and was the best of its kind in 
Syria. 

I should like to give a picture of my old friend Selim 
Sabit, an interesting and an unusual personality. I had 
met him in 1916 when I went to draw up a plan for the 
schools. He was an Arab copy of Napoleon III in 
dress and beard. I have often seen 5 r oung Arabs in 
higher society affecting the fashion of that particular 
French period. I cannot really tell whether it was out 
of admiration for Napoleon III or a fancy that the 
fashion was becoming. Selim Sabit said that he was 
seventy-six, but those who disliked him for his eccentric 
and outspoken character said that he was eighty-four. 
But his pointed beard he managed to keep coal black, 
and his small eyes, nearer together than any other eyes I 
have ever seen, had a shrewd, piercing, and very youth- 
ful light. His long oval face had a skin finely wrinkled 
into thousands of lines. He spoke in rhetorical tones, 
made such bows as one never sees in this workaday 
world, wore the brightest of waistcoats, and had daz- 
zlingly colored ties. My first impression was that of a 
vain old man, and I forgot him. In 1917 I heard him 
talked of as criticizing the callousness and the indiffer- 
ence of the higher classes to the sufferings of the masses. 
It was aristocracy offended at the shortcoming of the 
true aristocracy which prompted him. 

Then he became very much interested in the school 
and often called and offered his services. I soon found 

456 



EDU CATION AL WORK IN SYRIA 

that under that travestied exterior a true and loyal heart 
and an unbounded courage were hidden. His great at- 
tachment to the school was founded on its respect for 
Arabic and on its tolerance. This nationalism was out- 
wardly contradictory in a man who dressed as he did, but 
it was very sincere. After the first months he tried hard 
to persuade me to stay in Syria and to run the schools. 
I refused firmly. 

It was with him that I went up to see the Maronite 
patriarch, our neighbor in Aintoura. The eagle-like 
house of the patriarch perched on a very high rock, look- 
ing down over a steep precipice into waters which had 
an especially deep blue. The atmosphere of the house 
seemed to be an imitation of Rome. Cardinals, who had 
cultivated Italian faces and looked like the pictures of 
cardinals in art galleries, politely received us and talked 
perfect French to us. The old man himself looked a 
genuine mountaineer. Although more than eighty, he 
still was erect and robust, with the clear eyes of Leb- 
anon. He spoke French with the accent of his 
countrymen, and in his gorgeous red robe of a flaming 
pomegranate, he gave one the feeling of a sturdy 
Lebanon peasant. I had often heard of him as favor- 
ing French domination, and I see to-day that the Mar- 
onites are upholding the French claims. My own 
impression is that once the artificial difference of the 
Moslem and Christian Arab is removed (a feeling 
nursed and made the most of by the Western powers 
in the East) , all the Arabs, including the Maronites, will 
unite in no time. 

457 



MEMOIKS OF HALIDE EDIB 

My Arab friends filled my rooms with violets and 
crimson carnations, which looked like piles of fire in the 
large trays or baskets in which they were sent. If an 
Arab likes you in Syria, you receive poems and flowers, 
and you also receive his confidence unconditionally 
over a cup of coffee. If you are an official they bribe, 
flatter, and corrupt you, and so subtle are their ways that 
it is very difficult to resist them. So even those flowers 
in the first days made me say to myself, "Am I being 
corrupted?" But I was soon assured. Flowers cost 
nothing, and poems addressed to friends are different 
from those addressed to the great of the land. A man 
belonging to a rich family did try to bribe me, although 
clothed in the language of flattery. I was so near the 
sort of anger I had shown to the gold inspector in Con- 
stantinople that I ended the interview as soon as possible 
and with a suddenness he will not forget. Any one in 
Syria who is in a position to employ people so as to ex- 
empt them from military service must be prepared for 
such offers. 

"It is about Ruffat Effendi, your accountant at Leb- 
anon, than I want to speak," he began. 

"What about him?" 

"The fact is that I want to be your accountant at Leb- 



anon." 



"I am perfectly satisfied with Ruffat Effendi." 
"I am ready to make a great sacrifice in gold, thou- 
sands in fact, to procure the place." 
"To me?" I said as I suddenly rose. 
"No, no," he said hurriedly. "I mean to the institu- 

458 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

tions, and I am going to give Ruffat Effendi two thou- 
sand pounds which will make his fortune." 

"Did he consent?" I asked, coldly walking to the door. 

He was muddled and ashamed and began to beg to be 
taken in, no matter in what capacity; he would die, he 
said, if he went to the army. 

I op>ened the door and beckoned him to walk out. 
And as I went up with the feeling of shame that I had 
been offered a bribe, I thought of a passage in the "Hull 
House" of Miss Jane Addams where she tells how she 
was also exposed to the same thing, and wondered if 
there was anything in her bearing which made any one 
dare to offer a bribe, even in the shape of a contribution 
to her institution. 

Vedi Sabra asked to be allowed to put "The Shep- 
herds of Canaan" into a musical play, and after arrang- 
ing the libretto with me, he set to work. He did the first 
act in Syria, organizing an orchestra of twenty-five, 
composed of the best amateurs and professionals in 
Beirut. Doumet, the Syrian pianist, who had broken 
his front teeth in order to look like Beethoven, was to 
accompany the orchestra, and Sabra began to get ready. 
We would give it before we left Syria. 

By November the reverses at the front had begun. 
I was so absorbed with my work that I had hardly real- 
ized that Syria could be taken any moment by the enemy 
and that the whole place could be turned into a battle- 
field. I had an anxious letter from Saime Hanum, the 

459 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

head of the Damascus school, asking me to come and 
make a decision, as there was considerable fear among 
the people of Damascus. 

I started as soon as I could, and it was only in Reyak 
that I heard very serious news. Djemal Pasha's family 
had left the day before, and he himself was leaving quite 
soon; a German commander, Falkenheim, was coming. 
The military activity on the line had stopped ordinary 
transport, but I traveled in a carriage full of cartridge- 
boxes. 

After a serious talk with the teachers that evening, I 
went next day to see Djemal Pasha at his headquarters. 
He was extremely sad and not in the best of humor with 
his colleagues in Constantinople. He thought that his 
removal would upset the entire organization and order, 
in which he was not mistaken. But as it was war time 
he felt bound to keep the peace and obey orders. He 
proposed to take with him the teachers of the schools, 
which had been opened mainly through his initiative, for 
there was a possibility of anarchy. I thanked him and 
told him that until the moment came when the govern- 
ment closed the schools in Syria we should not leave 
our posts. He was insistent on possible and imminent 
danger, but I told him that the honor of Turkish women 
demanded that they should stay till they were officially 
authorized to leave the schools. Another Djemal 
Pasha, called the Second at the time, was to be in Syria 
and at the head of the forces. He and Colonel Fuad, 
the governors of the provinces, would help us to go on 
to the end of the year if . . . 

460 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

I told all my staffs of the immediate danger and 
frankly admitted the possibility of greater danger and 
hardship, so that any one who wished was to go with 
Djemal Pasha. From the first to the last all refused to 
leave their posts. The sublime sacrifice and the confi- 
dence of these women and men I can never forget, 
although this same confidence gave me moments of diffi- 
culty which I can never fully explain. 

A series of sleepless and anxious nights followed. 
Supplies were becoming rarer and rarer; to get the 
necessary provisions for a fortnight necessitated no end 
of correspondence. My idea was to get supplies which 
would last the schools till they closed, and for Aintoura 
for at least five months. It was after this that I began 
to follow the military movements with anxiety and in- 
terest. In the campaigns in Syria there was at the be- 
ginning one soldier's name which shone with special 
brilliance, that of Colonel Reffet. Fuad Pasha shared 
the luster in the last months. 

The first week of February I started for Damascus. 
I wanted the provision question settled safely for Ain- 
toura. There was talk of closing the schools in Syria 
in March on account of military operations, which were 
not in any way reassuring. Organization and order 
were hard to maintain under the circumstances. There 
was almost no transport. It was with difficulty that I 
could get a carriage with good horses and a reliable 
driver. Although one had to use a fan in Beirut, a 

461 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

snowstorm was raging on the tops of the Lebanon. 
Brigandage had begun during the last few months. I 
started at four from Beirut, and soon the night set in. I 
found to my great annoyance that there was no oil in 
the carriage lanterns, and it was not procurable on the 
way. We had to go nearly ten hours over high icy 
mountain passes, and all the time in the dark. It was 
a nightmare, and the brave guard who was on the car- 
riage told me that he had one of the most anxious nights 
of his life. We reached Zahle, the town before Reyak, 
half an hour after midnight, and I went to the house 
of the governor, whose wife was an old friend of mine. 
I was to proceed to Damascus the next day. 

In the morning before I started Major Kemal, the 
new chief of supplies, came to* see me. He had heard 
of my arrival that night. He promised to send the sup- 
plies without my going to Damascus, and solemnly de- 
clared that Aintoura should have provisions enough for 
four months. The order for the closing of the schools 
in March was confirmed during my stay, in Zahle. I 
went back relieved. 

The young Arabs on my return gave me a surprise 
entertainment. They had translated parts from my 
works into Arabic and some into French, and they acted 
them with surprising capacity. I almost cried over the 
"Folly of Handan," acted by a beautiful Arab girl. 
She became quite the vogue and acted the part at teas, 
which are grand affairs in the high life of Syria. 

462 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

I heard Sauda, the native Arab musician, sing and 
play on that occasion. He accompanied his own songs 
on the oud (a kind of Oriental lute). The rhythm at 
the end of each verse as he sang was wonderfully strik- 
ing, and at the end of each he looked with a flash of lan- 
guid questioning at his audience, and the audience re- 
sponded with a masterly concert of sighs, as if they were 
fainting at the very beauty of the music. It was done 
with such perfect finish, and the entire rhythm of the 
song, the movement of the musician, and the sighs were 
so in tempo that my attention was almost called away 
from the real beauty of the music. 

Several other entertainments in Arab schools fol- 
lowed, and the schools finally got up an exhibition of 
Syrian artists, most of whom I had come to know. The 
paintings did not amount to much, for the best painters 
were not in Syria, but there was a small group of statu- 
ary by an amateur which was instinct with the inmost 
significance of Syria's suffering in its clumsily executed 
stone figures. The group represented an Arab mother 
feeding a baby at her emaciated breasts, with two small 
children, one lying dead at her feet, and the other agon- 
izing, clutching her torn skirts, while the woman, with 
her fallen unkempt hair and dying eyes, was the very 
emblem of the starving women in Syria. It brought in- 
stant tears to my eyes, and it is a pity the young artist 
had not been trained in the technique of his art, or he 
would certainly have passed to posterity as having ren- 
dered in marble the image of his country's suffering. 

463 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

Again in the early days of February I was going 
through the classes in Aintoura. I had gone to stay for 
a longer spell in the little Montessori class. This time 
the little ones looked brighter and better, except one 
little girl who was morose, sickly, and miserable beyond 
description. All the other children held each other's 
hands, sang, and turned round gaily, while she walked 
listlessly. It was months since I had met such a sickly 
child in Aintoura, so I went to her and taking her thin 
cheeks gently in my hands, I lifted her face to mine. It 
was that of Jale, the happiest and healthiest child some 
months ago. 

"Why don't you sing, Jale?" 

"I have no more a mother." 

Sister Ismet had caught a bad form of malaria, and as 
it had affected her lungs for the time being, she was 
removed to a higher place in Lebanon. And it was that 
separation which had brought Jale into this shocking 
state. Fortunately I had known to the full in my own 
life the effect of moral distress on childish sensitiveness. 

"You come and be my guest in Beirut sometime. 
Your mother will be getting well before long," I said. 

"You will be my mother," she said, as if deciding on 
something which depended only on her. 

As I was taking leave of the teachers I heard a series 
of unearthly shrieks which followed each other in rapid 
succession. 

"It is Jale's voice," explained Dr. Loucfi. "The 
child is a wonderful, almost uncanny creature, who will 
have her own way absolutely." 

464 




< 

PS 

o 



■f. 

GO 



X 

M 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

I remembered strangely the night in the house of 
Yildiz when I had forced Mehemmed Effendi to take 
me into Abdul Hamid's palace where my father was. 
It was the same case ; some one had told Jale that I had 
forgotten her and gone away. 

As she came holding Dr. Loutfi's hand and hugging 
the tiny bundle containing her belongings, I realized 
that her little hooked nose was red with crying, and the 
rebelliously determined look of her eyes was different 
from that of other children. 

She took possession of me, of Der-Nassira, of the sis- 
ters in no time. She used to have her little bed laid out 
in the room where I worked from which my bedroom 
was separated by a thin partition of boards. 

"Are you there, mother?" cried a shrill voice at night 
several times, and she only left me in peace after I had 
assured her of my presence. 

She chiefly occupied my mind as she sat in the eve- 
nings on my homely sofa, sniffing at the flowers with 
epicurean joy, and singing a song which she herself had 
made, words and music: "Send us Helva [sweets]. 
let us eat it, emin, aman, emin, aman." The last words 
were made up for the sake of the rime. 

Vedi Sabra came to my room and played some of the 
airs from "The Shepherds of Canaan" and asked about 
the Turkish of the songs, while the school was feverishly 
preparing for the play. Some of the airs of the musical 
play were taken from the popular Arab songs, which I 
thought were charming. And it was usually those airs 
which Jale also enjoyed. She seemed to love the mild 

465 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

and gentle manners of the Arab musician, and affected a 
most protecting air toward him, ordering coffee for him 
whenever he came in. Sabra himself seemed intensely 
interested. 

It was on one of those evenings a strange thing hap- 
pened. Sabra was telling me in French that he often 
wondered about the nationality of the little girl. She 
had Eastern Anatolia written all over her person; the 
hooked nose, the dominating will, the passion all denoted 
it; but what was she? Who had made her cover that 
tremendous space and thrown her into the very heart of 
Arab lands? Whether it was the effect of our curiosity 
on her sensitive mind, or the influence of that song of the 
revolution of 1839, an air of thundering, bloody terror, 
and the cry of a wild mob which Sabra had adapted to 
the words of Joseph's brothers, in their murderous mood, 
"Let us kill him, let us kill him," which Sabra played 
and sang after we had talked about her, I cannot tell. 
But before Sabra had struck the last note, she was on 
her feet, running hither and thither, in extreme excite- 
ment, and enacting the bloody scene which had hitherto 
lain in her subconsciousness. 

"We run, we run," she said, running as she spoke. 
"There is Said, Said who pounds meat; so and so" — 
pounding — "who cuts the throats of the sheep" — imitat- 
ing the action on her little throat. "There is Hadije; 
she holds my hands and runs ; the men from the church 
must not hear us" ; she tiptoed with intense earnestness. 
"They are coming out, the Armenians are coming out, 
they take Said, they cut his throat, ro and so, they put 

466 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

the knife through Hadije, they turn and turn the knife, 
all her bowels are out." 

She was perspiring with emotion and passion, but she 
did not cry. We were spellbound with horror ; she had 
at last revealed her identity. She was evidently a 
Kurdish girl who had seen Said and Hadije, her parents, 
who were trying to run away, murdered by the Ar- 
menians coming out of a church. Neither Sabra nor I 
shall ever forget the words and the acting. 

I took her on my lap and tried to make her sing the 
little song of Helva, 2 and I tried to sing with her and 
gently rock her to oblivion of the vision of horror which 
she held in her tiny head. 

"Said who pounds meat is my father; Hadije with the 
bowels on the earth is my mother," she said before she 
began to sing the song of Helva. 

In connection with another Kurdish child I have an- 
other dramatic but happy picture fixed in my mind. It 
happened in one of my last visits to Aintoura. After 
the announcement that the parents able to prove their 
identity could take their children away, some Armenian 
women had appeared. But as there are very few Turks 
and Kurds in Beirut and Lebanon, none of these na- 
tionals had turned up to claim their children. On that 

2 We took Jale to Constantinople. I meant to adopt her, but as she had 
trachoma in her eyes, Dr. Adnan thought that I should be exposing my 
own boys to the incurable disease if I kept her. Makboule Hanum, our 
matron in Aintoura, had her in the orphanage of Tchaglian. In 1919 the 
international commission for the separation of the children pronounced her 
Armenian, with quite a number of other Turkish children. "Ask Mother 
Halide," she had said to the commission; "she will tell you I am not 
Armenian." „ 

467 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

day as I walked out of the orphanage, I saw a man and 
a woman standing by the door and looking very differ- 
ent from the natives of Syria, although they were 
dressed in a way that was familiar to me. The man was 
tall with a long black beard, and he had the picturesque 
and colored costume of the Kurds, although in rags. 
The woman was his wife. He asked me if this was an 
orphanage and if it contained Kurdish children. Then 
he took from his breast a carefully folded but very worn 
and torn paper. It was his identity card and was going 
to pieces. He was from near Erzeroum, and in the emi- 
gration when the Armenian General Antranik had 
come, his child Hassan was lost. The pair had walked 
all about Anatolia going from one orphanage to another 
in search of little Hassan. The paper was marked all 
over with red ink by the institutions he had passed with 
this sentence, "The child Hassan not being in this or- 
phanage." This was the last orphanage they were to 
come to. As Dr. Loutfi went into the buildings with the 
precious paper in his hands, my heart was beating as 
much as those of the old pair. In half an hour Dr. 
Loutfi walked back holding by the hand a rather 
delicate-looking child in a clean apron and shoes. The 
huge pair seemed framed in the ruddy blaze of the moun- 
tain evening; at the sight of the child they fell on their 
knees and opened their long arms, and the child crept 
hastily into their broad bosoms. Thus Ramazan, the 
son of Abdullah, found his little son called Hassan in 
Aintoura. 

468 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

I asked Dr. Bliss and Mr. Dodge to come to see me 
and begged them to take Aintoura under the protection 
of the Red Cross as soon as fighting began in Beirut. 
The children were supplied for four months, thanks to 
Major Kemal, and the director with some of the staff 
was going to stay till the last moment. I also begged 
them to pass the Armenian children to the Armenians 
through the Red Cross, and the Moslem children to the 
Red Crescent in Constantinople, if the necessary mo- 
ment came. They promised, and they kept their prom- 
ise. They sent up Mr. Crawford in the name of the 
Red Cross when the Allied armies entered. This was 
my last service to Aintoura. 

On the twentieth of February the school gave "The 
Shepherds of Canaan." 

Children all over the world are good actors, but the 
Arab children beat them all in certain ways. They 
work themselves into an absolute belief of reality. Any 
play which has dramatic passion, tragedy, and romance 
can be trusted to Arab children, and in most cases they 
will perform it to perfection. Ellen, a girl of thirteen, 
with a contralto that dominated the orchestra, most 
strange for her size and age, acted Judas. Her face, 
one of those fair ovals with starlike, warm blue eyes and 
golden complexion, had wonderful dramatic expression. 
Her sister, only eleven, a milder and gentler copy of 
Ellen, looked like a very picture of the Christ-child. 

The stage had a real palm-tree and thick red sand. 

469 



MEMOIRS OF HALIDE EDIB 

The children in their gorgeous robes, in brilliant reds 
and blues and orange, their feet bare, imagined them- 
selves in the desert, feeling the murderous jealousy 
of Joseph's brothers plotting to sell or kill Joseph. In 
the last scene when they sang out the air that all Syria 
knew, "Let us kill him, let us kill him," I felt really 
anxious for the life of the little girl Joseph. The fierce 
contortions on their Semitic faces, their murderous 
hands playing around Joseph like lightning, and poor 
Joseph running and trying to escape in real and unut- 
terable horror brought down the house. Then the per- 
formance passed to the audience. Some one got up and 
began to thunder in oratorical Arabic. "Feyad, 
Feyad," went in a whisper through the public. Syria's 
great poet and speaker so far had kept away from every- 
thing connected with the Turks. Now he was not only 
there but was paying the greatest tribute, and at a mo- 
ment when the rule of the Turk seemed surely at an end. 
Speech after speech followed his, and it was a thor- 
oughly Arabic audience. It was dark before they began 
to go, and they sang Fikret's "We are a brave na- 
tion ... we are Ottomans," with a sincerity that re- 
minded one of 1908. 

Thirteen times Beirut forced the school to give that 
play. As we were only to remain a few days more, we 
gave it twice a day, and the audience always left singing 
some familiar air, mostly that of little Joseph, "For all 
times." On the lamp-posts in the streets of Beirut the 
name of Ellen was written, and Sabra was lionized and 
the Arabs quite happy over the little play, "The Shep- 

470 



EDUCATIONAL WORK IN SYRIA 

herds of Canaan," which became theirs. My friend 
Selim Sabit always had tears in his shrewd little eyes. 
"The one who reads between the lines has unveiled our 
hearts," he said. 3 

I put my little actors in a lorry and took them to 
Aintoura for a night. The boy musicians of Aintoura 
used to come and play for Der-Xassira, usually on Fri- 
days. This was the turn of Der-Xassira to entertain 
them. In the carpentering hall, where a stage was im- 
provised, the little actors sang and acted to Aintoura 
and kept them in delight. 

On the fourth of March, thanks to the help and kind- 
ness of Djemal Pasha the Second, we left Syria for 
Constantinople. Thus ended our work in Syria, and we 
left the Arab lands amid very sincere farewells and some 
tears. 

s Selim Sabit always called me "the one who reads between the lines." 
In 1919 he had opened a competition in the Arabic papers of Beirut He 
was to pay ten pounds to the writer who would express best what "the 
one who reads between the lines" means. I received two letters from him 
in Angora in 1921. One was full of pictures. It was marvelous how he had 
managed to put in water-colors the entire Arab land with palms, sands, 
tents, bananas, and palms. Before I could answer I heard of his death. 



471 



EPILOGUE 

Of the events during the interval between March and 
the armistice, signed in Mudros in October, there is not 
much to tell. It was a historical entr'acte. The cur- 
tain had fallen on the Ottoman empire and its last repre- 
sentatives, the Unionists. 

There was expectation behind the sense of great 
loss. The Unionist regime had begun with a bloodless 
revolution promising liberty, justice, equality, and fra- 
ternity. It had brought both the sublime and the in- 
fernal to Turkish lands and Turkish people. And 
after it had passed away, the Turkish people were wait- 
ing for the curtain to rise again and reveal a new and 
pacific Turkey in which the great achievements of 1908 
should stand forth, cleansed and purified by the blood 
and sacrifice of Turkey's great sons. 

How the new era began, and what was the scene en- 
acted must be told as a separate tale — the tale of one of 
the greatest epics of modern Europe 1 



472 



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